Dietary fiber: types, properties and health benefits


Dietary fiber is the indigestible vegetable residue and is composed of those components of vegetables that digestive enzymes cannot degrade (such as resistant starch, pectins, cellulose, lignin or non-cellulosic polysaccharides).

Why is it necessary to include dietary fiber in a healthy diet? Despite not being a nutrient, fiber is a very important part of our regular diet because it helps us to go to the bathroom regularly and to suffer a lower incidence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases or carcinoma of the large intestine.

Types of dietary fiber

Soluble fiber

It is made up of pectins, mucilages, among other components, and all of them are soluble in water and have a great capacity to retain it, leaving it with a viscous consistency similar to that of a gel. This type of fiber is fermented by the bacterial flora and contributes to a lesser extent in the total set of feces. This type of fiber is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Non-soluble fiber

Made up of cellulose and lignin among other components, it has a lower capacity to retain water. As it is not fermented by the intestinal flora, this type of fiber is the one that is most found in the stool due to its laxative effect. Insoluble or insoluble fiber increases intestinal motility and this improves intestinal transit. Soluble fiber is found mainly in whole grains and legumes.

Properties and health benefits of dietary fiber

Low fiber diets can have negative consequences for our health and cause a higher incidence of diseases such as obesity , hiatal hernia , cholelithiasis , diverticulosis , hemorrhoids , cancer (mainly of the colon and rectum), diabetes mellitus (type II) or atherosclerosis .

An incorporation of adequate amounts of fiber helps us prevent constipation or irritable bowel .

On the other hand, in cases of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, the consumption of dietary fiber should be limited.

Soluble fiber produces a feeling of satiety because it slows the emptying of the stomach, which is why it is of great value for people who are on a diet to lose weight .

Dietary fiber helps to keep the intestinal tract in good condition and to prevent the accumulation of toxins .

Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol levels .

In general, a daily fiber intake of 20 to 35 grams is recommended for adults. And it is recommended to take about 5 servings of legumes a week, 3 daily servings of vegetables, another 3 daily servings of fruits and 6 weekly servings of whole grains.

As you can see, fiber is important to maintain good health , although you should bear in mind that taking an excess of fiber on a regular basis can limit the absorption of minerals such as iron, zinc or calcium.

High fiber foods

Kidney beans or white beans

Garbanzo beans


Peas or peas

Broad beans

Whole grains (rice, oats, spelled, barley, etc)


Sunflower seeds or seeds

Flax or linseed seeds







Artichokes or artichokes



Brussels sprouts









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