library / Fiber

Dietary fibers are the indigestible portion of plant foods that move food through the digestive system, absorbing water and easing elimination.

Dietary fiber consists of non-starch polysaccharides such as cellulose and many other plant components such as dextrins, inulin, lignin, waxes, chitins, pectins, beta-glucans and oligosaccharides.

There are two general categories of fiber - soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers, which are easily digested, can be divided into three major types: pectins (found in root vegetables, cabbage, apples, whole-wheat bran, and beans); gums (which can be obtained from oatmeal, dried beans, and other legumes); and mucilages (which are synthesized by plant cells and are found in food additives).

There are also several types of insoluble fibers. One is cellulose, which can be found in cabbage, peas, apples, root vegetables, whole-wheat flour, beans, bran, and wheat. Another is hemicellulose, which is found in bran, cereals, and whole grains. Lignan, most abundantly found in flaxseed, is a phytochemical that works very much like an insoluble fiber.

Fiber is actually classified as a carbohydrate; in the U.S. the total carbohydrates listed on a food label will include dietary fiber, although the fiber is listed separately.


Meyer KA, Kushi LH, Jacobs DR Jr, Slavin J, Sellers TA, Folsom AR. Carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and incident type 2 diabetes in older women. Liese AD, Schulz M, Moore CG, Mayer-Davis EJ. Dietary patterns, insulin sensitivity and adiposity in the multi-ethnic Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study population. Br J Nutr. 2004 Dec;92(6):973. Wolk A, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, et al. Long-term intake of dietary fiber and decreased risk of coronary heart disease among women. JAMA. 1999;281:1998-2004. Liu S, Willett WC, Manson JE, Hu FB, Rosner B, Colditz G.Relation between changes in intakes of dietary fiber and grain products and changes in weight and development of obesity among middle-aged women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Nov;78(5):920-7. Marlett JA, McBurney MI, Slavin JL; American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic Association: health implications of dietary fiber. J Am Diet Assoc 2002 Jul;102(7):993-1000. Jalili T, Wildman REC, Medeiros DM. Nutraceutical roles of dietary fiber. J Nutraceuticals Functional Med Foods. 2000;2(4):19-34.


Related Recipes