Fiber Good, and Not Just for Your Gut

Fiber Food

Fiber isn’t just for good for your gut. It fights heart disease and diabetes, new studies suggest.

The full-body benefit comes from eating the 20-35 grams of fiber per day recommended by dietary guidelines.

Fiber for Heart Health

Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, followed 524 healthy adults for one year. At the beginning of the study – and every three months – the researchers drew blood for lab tests and collected details about what the volunteers were eating.

“This study shows that dietary fiber prevents heart disease and diabetes,” Ma tells WebMD. “The fiber offers protection. So people need to get their fruit and vegetables.” Ma’s study appears in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Fiber Fights Diabetes in Overweight/Obese People

People who are overweight are at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, the most common kind. Martin O. Weickert, MD, of the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal, Germany, noted that people who eat a lot of cereal fibers, such as bran, are less likely to get diabetes.

Where to Find Fiber

People need both insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. Apples, for example, have insoluble fiber in their skins and soluble fiber in their flesh. So foods are a better way to get fiber than supplements. You get the whole package with foods.”

Foods with a lot of soluble fiber include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes (peas, beans, and lentils)
  • Apple
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries

Foods packed with insoluble fibers include:

  • Whole-grain bread
  • Whole-grain breakfast cereals
  • Wheat bran
  • Seeds
  • Many vegetables, including carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, and tomatoes

By Daniel DeNoon, WebMD, April 2006

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