health for your
A fresh take
The Natural Sleep Aid
#1 Supplement Brand*
Fiber provides a host
of health benefits
Helps you relax
Signals to your
body that it’s
time to sleep.†
Your best sleep
*Based on POS sales in Food, Drug, Mass and Club.
†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
By Angela Pirisi
A LONG WAY from being called merely
“roughage,” fiber has become a superfood
ingredient boasting a range of health benefits.
One study examined fiber consumption in
more than 388,000 adults, ages 50 to 71 years,
over a nine-year period. It found that higher
fiber intake was associated with multiple
health benefits, including a lower risk of death
from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases.
Fiber, the substance in plant foods that
passes through the body undigested, is usually characterized as soluble or insoluble.
Soluble fiber partially dissolves in water to
form a gel-like (viscous) texture. Found in
foods such as oatmeal and oat bran, nuts and
seeds, beans and legumes, as well as some
fruit (e.g., apples, pears), this kind of fiber can
reduce cholesterol. Insoluble fiber (also
known as roughage) is the gritty type found
in wheat bran, corn bran, flaxseeds and some
vegetables and fruit (especially skins). These
fibers don’t dissolve, but bulk up by binding
with water to help promote regularity.
But within these broad categories, science
is discovering a variety of fiber sources and
functions. “I like to call fiber a multi-tasker in
your body,” says Sari Greaves, spokesperson
for the American Dietetic Association (ADA).
“Fiber has the ability to bind cholesterol,
speed intestinal transit time to protect against
cancer and constipation, and benefit digestive health.”
Fresh and dried peas
provide 9 and 7 grams
of fiber, respectively,
per half-cup serving.
Trouble is, not many folks are taking
advantage of fiber’s perks. The national average intake of dietary fiber is only about half of
the recommended 25 to 38 grams. American
dietary guidelines also recommend that
adults eat at least half of their grains as whole
grains (three to five servings), as fiber from
whole grains is the most beneficial.
Whole grains mean that the entire grain
is intact, and that nothing has been stripped.
“Whole grains contain three layers,” explains
Greaves. “The bran (outer fiber-rich layer)
contains protein, minerals and B-vitamins.
The endosperm (middle layer) contains
energy-yielding starch, some protein, iron
and very small amounts of B-vitamins. And
the endoderm (inner layer) contains a gold-mine of vitamins including vitamin E;
B-vitamins such as folate; minerals, including
potassium, magnesium, selenium and iron;
and phytosterols, which are plant hormones
that lower cholesterol.”
Different fibers, different perks
As science unravels fiber’s properties,
new benefits are being reported.
“We know now that fiber does much
more than promote regularity. Newer information tells us about how other properties of
fiber can affect satiety and metabolic factors,” says Britt Burton-Freeman, director of the
Center for Nutrition
Research at the Institute
for Food Safety and
Health in Illinois.
For example, beta-glucan, a soluble fiber in
oat bran, oatmeal, oat flour,
barley and rye, may help
to fight heart disease and
lower cholesterol. “Oat bran,
the isolated outer layer of the
oat kernel, is the most concentrated
M EDIA BAKER Y
48 ;e Costco Connection MAY 2011