Scientists Discover Even More Reasons To Eat Fiber

Bowl of Fibers

Breaking New Ground in the World of Nutrition: The Remarkable Benefits of Fiber


In a recent groundbreaking study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota, the spotlight has shifted onto the incredible health benefits associated with insoluble fiber. This investigation unearthed a treasure trove of unique bioactive compounds present in plant-based sources of fiber. These bioactives have been linked to a decreased risk of developing a range of diseases, including cardiovascular ailments, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. While we have long recognized the role of fiber in promoting gut health, this study sheds new light on the broader health advantages that can be harnessed from these bioactives found in fiber-rich plants. The findings also open up exciting possibilities for enhancing the nutritional value of processed foods by incorporating these fiber sources.

The Role of Insoluble Fiber In Health

Health experts have extolled the virtues of insoluble fiber for years, primarily for its role in ensuring regular bowel movements and overall well-being. The latest revelations from the University of Minnesota underscore the importance of integrating fiber into our daily diets.

Published in the journal Nutrients, the study reveals that every plant-based source of insoluble fiber contains unique bioactive components. These compounds have been associated with a reduced risk of serious health conditions, implying that the benefits of fiber extend far beyond its conventional digestive advantages.

Joanne Slavin, a co-author of the study and a professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota, remarked, “People understand the need for fiber and its impact on gut health, a facet of wellness that is gaining increasing recognition as scientific research continues to unveil its influence on overall health and well-being. Fiber is a key indicator of health included in our dietary guidelines and product labels, but our research indicates that the other valuable components of fiber-containing plant sources, the bioactives, should also be acknowledged for their substantial contributions to human health.”

Fiber foods

Key Insights into Bioactives in Fiber Sources

The study consolidated existing research on the health benefits of bioactives in plant sources of insoluble dietary fiber and uncovered some noteworthy findings:

  1. A multitude of plant foods, encompassing fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, contain insoluble dietary fiber, each with its unique set of bioactives that support health in diverse ways.
  2. Desirable bioactives such as Quercetin, Resveratrol, Catechins, Anthocyanins, Lutein, Lycopene, and Beta-Carotene were found in various plant foods that also contain insoluble dietary fiber.
  3. Plant sources rich in bioactives and insoluble dietary fiber can be harnessed to enrich processed foods, thereby augmenting their nutritional value. Byproducts of food production, like peels, hulls, pulp, or pomace, are typically high in fiber and bioactives, offering a unique and sustainable source of nutritional value.
  4. Consumer research indicated that fortifying foods with these bioactive-rich fiber sources at a modest level did not compromise consumer acceptance of the product.

Implications and Future Prospects

Jan-Willem Van Klinken, a co-author of the study and senior vice president of medical, scientific, and regulatory affairs for Brightseed, noted, “The recommendation to consume more fruits and vegetables is not a novel concept, yet it remains a challenge for many individuals. If we can introduce widely available fiber-fortified products designed to enhance, rather than diminish, bioactive content, we can deliver increased nutritional value to consumers.”

The latest findings on the impact of bioactives on human health underscore the need for collaborative efforts from industry, academia, and government to raise awareness and promote education regarding bioactives in the realm of food and health systems.

Lead author Madeline Timm, who co-authored the research for her graduate project at the University of Minnesota, emphasized, “The compilation of literature we reviewed and the results of this research can serve as a paradigm shift in how the food and health industries, as well as consumers, perceive insoluble dietary fiber and bioactives. Continued research and the widespread inclusion of bioactives in foods and supplements have the potential to make a significant impact on human health.”

It is worth noting that further research is imperative to identify extraction and processing methods that effectively preserve and optimize the bioactive compounds found in these remarkable fiber sources. This Research has proven to be a good one for our daily life as it suggests more reasons to eat fiber in our diet.

Reference: “Beyond Insoluble Dietary Fiber: Bioactive Compounds in Plant Foods” by Madeline Timm, Lisa C. Offringa, B. Jan-Willem Van Klinken, and Joanne Slavin, published on September 24, 2023, in Nutrients.

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