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Making Sense of Foods

Understanding Fiber: Health Benefits of Fiber

Understanding Fiber

Fiber, which used to be called "roughage," is only found in foods from plants, such as beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits. It passes through the body with very little change in the digestive system. That means that fiber provides few or no calories, in addition to having many health benefits.

Fiber provides many benefits. While maintaining the health of the digestive tract, it also lowers the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. It helps control the appetite, so it's easier to keep weight in check. Because it is found only in plant foods, vegetarians tend to have very high fiber intakes, which may be one of the reasons vegetarians are generally healthier and slimmer than meat–eaters.

Health Benefits of Fiber

  • Colon and rectal cancer: Increasing fiber can help decrease the risk of colon and rectal cancers.
  • Diabetes: Diets high in fiber help control blood sugar levels and have also been shown to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Heart disease: Fiber can reduce blood cholesterol levels. Diets high in fiber have also been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease.
  • Diverticulitis: Fiber decreases the risk of diverticulitis, a painful intestinal condition.
  • Constipation: Fiber helps prevent constipation.
  • Weight control: Fiber is filling, has almost no calories, and helps maintain blood sugar—all factors that help control hunger and body weight.

 

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Estimating the Fiber in Foods: Quick Fiber Check >>