Q:

What is the importance of fiber in your diet?

A:

Quick Answer

Fiber promotes bowel health, improves bowel regularity, reduces cholesterol, maintains blood sugar levels and supports weight loss efforts, according to the Mayo Clinic. The potential health benefits include better heart health and a lower risk of certain diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes.

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Full Answer

Fiber is either soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber turns into a gel-like substance when it is dissolved in water. This type of fiber is responsible for reducing cholesterol and glucose levels. Oats, beans, apples, barley, carrots and citrus fruits are all good sources of soluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. This type of fiber supports the functioning of the digestive system, including reducing constipation and making bowel movements regular. Potatoes, cauliflower, beans, wheat bran, whole wheat flour and nuts contain insoluble fiber.

Fiber supports weight management by increasing chewing time to allow the person to notice when he feels full sooner. Foods containing fiber also help a person stay full longer.

While some benefits of fiber are well-researched, other health effects may be attributed to fiber but without concrete evidence to support the claims. Fiber may help control blood pressure and inflammation. Studies have also shown that fiber may also help prevent colorectal cancer.

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