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Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber

High-fiber foods are good for your health. Dietary patterns high in grain products and fiber have been associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. But adding too much fiber too quickly can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Increase fiber in your diet gradually over a period of a few weeks. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change. Also, drink plenty of water. Fiber works best when it absorbs water, making your stool soft and bulky.

Dietary fiber (DF) is the term given collectively to indigestible carbohydrates present in plant foods. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates- which your body breaks down and absorbs- fiber isn't digested by your body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body. Fiber is commonly classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn't dissolve. Plants contain both types of fiber in varying degrees. Therefore food sources of dietary fiber are often divided according to how much soluble and insoluble fiber they predominantly have.

Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes the parts of plant foods your body can't digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates- which your body breaks down and absorbs- fiber isn't digested by your body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body.
Fiber is commonly classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn't dissolve.

    1.Soluble fiber: This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium. Sources of soluble fiber are:

    • ✔ Legumes like peas, soybeans and other types of beans
    • ✔ Oats, rye, chia, and barley
    • ✔ Some fruits and fruit juices like plums, berries, bananas, and the insides of apples and pears
    • ✔ Vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions
    • ✔ Psyllium seed husk

    2.Insoluble fiber: This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Most plant-based foods, such as oatmeal and beans, contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.

    • ✔ Whole grain foods, wheat and corn bran
    • ✔ Nuts other edible seeds like flax seed
    • ✔ Potato and tomato skins as also skins of certain fruits
    • ✔ Plant lignin
    • ✔ Vegetables like green beans, cauliflower, zucchini, courgette and celery
    • ✔ Fruits like avocado, and bananas
    Why Dietary Fiber is considered as a Healthy Nutrient in Food Products?
    • • Bowel movements: Dietary fiber may help to soften the stool because due to absorb water and adds bulk to stool easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation.
    • • Helps maintain bowel health: A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon. Some fiber is fermented in the colon. Researchers are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.
    • • Lowers cholesterol levels: Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol levels. Studies also have shown that high-fiber foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
    • • Helps control blood sugar levels: In people with diabetes, fiber -particularly soluble fiber -can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
    • • Achieving healthy weight:High-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, so you're likely to eat less and stay satisfied longer. And high-fiber foods tend to take longer to eat and to be less "energy dense," which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food. Another benefit attributed to dietary fiber is prevention of colorectal cancer.
    How much fiber do you need?

    The National Institute of Nutrition, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Hyderabad, India which provides science-based advice on matters of health, gives the daily fiber recommendations for adults:

    • I) As per the ICMR guidelines, the daily diet of an adult should contain at least 40g of dietary fiber.
      Consume a variety of grain products, including whole grains; choose 5 or more servings per day: If you aren't getting enough fiber each day, you may need to boost your intake:
      • ✔  Whole-grain products
      • ✔  Fruits
      • ✔  Vegetables
      • ✔  Beans, peas and other legumes
      • ✔  Nuts and seeds

      Refined or processed food Products - such as canned fruits and vegetables, pulp-free juices, white breads and pastas, and non-whole-grain cereals -are lower in fiber. The grain-refining process removes the outer coat (bran) from the grain, which lowers its fiber content. Enriched foods have some of the B vitamins and iron back after processing, but not the fiber.


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