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Does Total Fiber Intake Matter More Than The Fiber Source?

By Rachael Moeller Gorman

Focus on total fiber, not the source.

The Exceptions

Some fibers may prove better than others in the case of two specific health conditions.

To combat sky-scrapingly high “bad” cholesterol levels, Mark G., a psychologist who lives just outside of Boston, makes a bowl of oatmeal every morning using 3⁄4 cup old-fashioned oats. This provides 3 grams soluble fiber, the type that binds LDL “bad” cholesterol and prevents it from wreaking havoc in his blood vessels. Along with regular exercise and some weight loss, Mark’s morning “medicine bowl” (a suggestion from his physician) has lowered his cholesterol by 40 points. Good choices of soluble fiber: barley, oatmeal, beans, peas, citrus fruits, pears, apples, strawberries and eggplant.

Insoluble fiber, which absorbs water and increases in bulk, helps move food through the gastrointestinal tract, helping prevent constipation. Good choices of insoluble fiber: most whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread and wheat bran, cabbage, beets, bananas, carrots, tomatoes and Brussels sprouts.

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