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Q. Is added fiber as good for you as natural fiber?

Is added fiber as good for you as natural fiber?

A. Americans, on average, get only 15 grams of fiber each day. It’s recommended that women get 25 grams daily and men 38. Fiber is naturally found in beans, fruits, vegetables, whole grains… and now it’s added to ice cream and sugary breakfast cereals (e.g., Apple Jacks and Froot Loops) too. About 100 new foods with added fiber hit U.S. grocery shelves annually, according to Mintel, a leading market research company. But does “added fiber” have the same health benefits?

“Any increase in fiber intake is positive,” says Joanne Slavin, Ph.D., R.D., of the University of Minnesota. “If the only way you’ll get enough fiber is by adding it to foods, it’s still beneficial. If someone’s going to eat Apple Jacks, I’d rather have it be Apple Jacks with fiber than without.”

That said, there are actually many specific types of fibers, all of which have unique health benefits. For example, beta glucan, a soluble fiber in oats and barley, traps dietary cholesterol and “escorts” it out of your body as waste. Fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS), another soluble fiber, in fruits, helps keep you regular by feeding the “good” bacteria in your digestive system. And while foods naturally rich in fiber usually contain a mixture of different fibers, foods with added fiber generally only have one type, such as beta glucan or FOS.

Bottom Line: “Ideally people should eat naturally fiber-rich foods because they contain a mix of different fibers as well as important vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals,” says Slavin. Get your fiber from natural sources first, such as beans, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Then use foods with “added fiber” to boost you to the recommended intake level.

COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

I'd like to hear more about the manufactured fibers, like inulin and maltodextrose, that I often see in ingredient lists of processed foods. Do these kind of added fiber help our digestion or cholesterol?

Anonymous

11/12/2009 - 5:18pm

i discovered that watermelon for the 3 months of summer lowered my cholosterol by 17 points my dr. was very proud and did not take meds. yuk. and as far as fiber watermelon has plenty and not to mention lot of A vitamins for the skin and last but not least a red one tastes amazing to me.
Also if you like Tahini every one tablespoon has 3 grams of fiber. you don't need a lot to make your own homous. and it is easy lebanese cuisine top with evo oil and can have with whole wheat pita bread or dipped with pepper, cucumber ,carrot,and any thing veggie you are willing to experimet with for the reciepie can email me at www.ruth stagnitta@verizon.net

i would like to add a comment on added fiber one that is not has been promoted like it should be and that the inexpensive box of ground flax seed that when first opened needs to be frigerated to the lady above my comment you can add to yougurts, salads , soups dips when making bread add some can be mixed with fruite salad flax seeds taste nutty and has fiber tons and they contain linolic acid which is good for the brain and more can do some research on benefits of flax seed if you like on internet .ps. if you have digestive challanges like chrones disease must consult physician first.sorry. I pray this has helped some one, Ruth Stagnitta Syracuse, ny

Anonymous

08/01/2010 - 11:17pm

Thanks for this very informative post! Fiber as they say is the natural broom that sweeps the unnecessary and harmful elements found in the digestive track. Although fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, not everyone gets the right amount of fiber in their diet because of the other food options available. In order for people to get the additional fiber they need in their diet, it is now being added to foods. Fiber helps keep the digestive system healthy and helps in maintaining overall health. A healthy digestive track will be able to help in eliminating toxins and other harmful elements through regular bowel movement, our body's natural way of colon cleansing.

Anonymous

09/02/2010 - 7:27am

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