Fiber: Why You Need More Fiber (cont.)

Soluble or viscous fiber is the softer type that dissolves in water.

When digested, it helps prevent cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestines. This type of fiber is also thought to help minimize the rise in blood sugar levels after a meal, which is particularly helpful for people with diabetes.

This type of fiber comes from: beans (they have both types of fiber), oatmeal and oat bran, some fruits (apples, mangoes, plums, kiwi, pears, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, citrus fruits, dried apricots, prunes, and figs), and some vegetables (dried peas, beans, and lentils).

Insoluble fiber doesn't dissolve in water.

It helps keep bowel movements regular, and may reduce the risk of colon problems. It may also reduce the risk of hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and obesity (by making us feel full).

Insoluble fiber is found in: Whole-wheat grain and wheat bran, brown rice, bulgur, seeds, and vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, and tomatoes).

Do you need to measure how much of each type of fiber you get in your diet? Don't worry about it. Some foods offer both types of fiber, and not all soluble fibers block absorption of cholesterol. In fact, according to the American Dietetic Association, the National Academy of Science has recommended phasing out the terms "soluble" and "insoluble" when discussing fiber. The bottom line: All dietary fiber is good for you. Just get more of it.

Your next step? Check out 6 Foods and Tips for More Fiber.

Medically Updated: May 19, 2006.

SOURCES: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, September 2005. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 2002, March 2003, November 2003, December 2003, and August 2004. American Heart Journal, July 2005. U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database. ESHA Food Processor II. Barbara Rolls, PhD, author, The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan and The Volumetrics Eating Plan; and professor, nutritional sciences, Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa. Joanne Slavin, PhD, RD, nutrition researcher, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn. Megan McCrory, PhD, research associate professor, School of Nutrition and Exercise Science, Bastyr University, Kenmore, Wash. American Dietetic Association.

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Last Editorial Review: 5/19/2006