Each plant source of insoluble fiber also contains unique bioactives that are linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Fiber is even healthier than previously thought.
A study involving experts from the University of Minnesota examined how the insoluble fiber content of plant foods in combination with the bioactive substances of plant foods affects health. The results are published in the English-language specialist journal “Nutrients”.
Insoluble fiber healthier than expected
Insoluble fiber is known to have beneficial effects on overall health while maintaining regular bowel movements. According to the latest study results, the benefits of insoluble fiber extend far beyond what was previously known.
The researchers report that each plant source of insoluble fiber also contains unique bioactives. These compounds are associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Fiber strengthens the intestinal flora
It was already known how important fiber is and how beneficial it is for the intestinal flora. The intestinal flora, in turn, has a significant influence on general health and well-being.
Eating plant-based foods, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, is generally associated with various health benefits, with fiber also playing an important role.
Different forms of fiber
There are different fibers that have different health benefits due to their physiochemical properties (solubility, viscosity) and their physiological effects (fermentability), the team explains.
In addition, according to the researchers, plant-based foods, which are the source of insoluble fiber, also contain many different bioactive substances that support health in various ways, which has often been ignored so far.
Bioactive substances in plant foods
For example, quercetin, resveratrol, catechins, anthocyanins, lutein, lycopene and beta-carotene are found in a variety of plant foods that also contain insoluble fiber, the experts report in a current press release.
According to them, such plant sources with bioactive substances and insoluble fiber could also be used to fortify processed foods to increase their nutritional value. For example, by-products of food production such as peels, pods, pulp or pomace are suitable for this, as they are often rich in fiber and bioactive substances.
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The researchers explain that products enriched with fiber, which simultaneously increase their bioactive content, could help counteract the effects of too little fruit and vegetable consumption and have a significant impact on health.
Paradigm shift in insoluble fiber
“The literature we reviewed and the results of this research may create a paradigm shift in how the food and health industry and consumers view insoluble fiber and bioactive substances,” adds study author Madeline Timm.
A sufficient intake of fiber and other valuable components of fiber-containing plant sources can have extremely positive effects on health and significantly reduce the risk of various diseases. (as)