Dietary fiber is the part of plant foods that the body cannot
digest. Eating foods with fiber helps to keep the digestive tract healthy
and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Fiber in the diet is
classified as either soluble or insoluble.
Soluble fiber. As part of a low-fat,
low-cholesterol diet, soluble fiber has been shown to help lower blood
cholesterol. Foods high in soluble fiber include oat bran, oatmeal, dry beans
and peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries, and apple pulp (the
solids left after making apple juice).
Insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber does not lower
blood cholesterol, but it is important in keeping the bowels healthy and
preventing constipation and diverticular disease. Foods high in insoluble fiber
include whole wheat breads, whole-grain cereals, and whole bran. Other examples
are cabbage, beets, carrots, brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower, and apple
Bran is widely known as a good source of fiber. But
many commercially made bran products, such as muffins and waffles, actually
contain very little bran, and they are often high in saturated and total fat.
Check the labels for the actual fiber content.