Natural Dietary Fiber Versus Processed Fibers
The Standard American Diet (SAD) of meat, potatoes, refined sugar and flour, and processed foods is low in dietary fiber which has been linked to colon cancer and other digestive conditions.
A popular marketing tool is claiming products are high in fiber providing 30% or more of the recommended daily requirement. But all fibers are not equal. There are natural fibers from plants and manufactured fibers added to increase a products fiber content.
“Provides 40% of Daily Value,” boasts Quaker High Fiber Instant Oatmeal. “6g Fiber,” says Quaker Weight Control Instant Oatmeal.
Oats, quick cooking, old-fashion, or steel cup provides 3 grams of fiber per serving.
To double the fiber in Quaker’s cereals, maltodextrin or polydextrose, processed fibers that may not be as good at lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and constipation are added. There are no studies showing processed fiber has the same health benefits of unprocessed, intact fiber in whole grains like oats, wheat, barley, and rice.
Whole-grain cereals with no added fiber has between 3 to 5 grams of fiber per serving. No exception is brown rice cereals that have only 2 grams per serving.
Instant oatmeal and other instant cereals are highly processed foods. While convenient, they are not the healthiest choices. Non-instant cereals like Bob’s Red Mill Organic High Fiber Hot Cereal has 10 grams of fiber per day.
Soluble and Insoluble Fiber
There are two different types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. Both are important for health, digestion, and preventing diseases.
- Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion. This slows digestion. Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. It is also found in psyllium, a common fiber supplement. Some types of soluble fiber may help lower cholesterol, but the effect on heart disease is not known.
- Insoluble fiber is found in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. It adds bulk to the stool and appears to help food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines.
When buying high fiber processed foods check the ingredients label for maltodextrin or polydextrose. They are added to 100s of processed foods to make them appear healthier than they really are.