Fiber is an essential nutrient that helps to lower the risk of developing various conditions. It helps digest different foods, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate, but what makes fiber different from carbs?
Carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules during the process of digestion. On the other hand, Fiber is not digested in the same way as carbs follow. It cannot be broken down into sugar molecules and helps to keep your hunger.
The different role in the digestion process leads to some common misconceptions about fiber. Read on to learn more about fiber and carbohydrates in the diet.
What are the types of Fiber?
The Calorie Control Council has marked confusion about whether fiber cancels out carbohydrates or not.
The confusion arises based on the difference in their digestion process. As you all know, fiber is divided into two types such as soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is a gel-like material that dissolves in water. It can produce energy for your body and the produced energy is about half the amount of other carbohydrates. As the name suggests, insoluble fiber is not digested at all.
It doesn’t deal with the energy of your body. Insoluble fiber is also called dietary fiber and passes through the digestive system.
The abovementioned fiber is essential in your diet. It doesn’t cancel out carbohydrates and helps other foods pass through the digestive system.
A lack of fiber in your diet may cause several health issues such as constipation and gastrointestinal diseases, etc.
What are the benefits of Fiber?
As you know, fiber is an important part of the digestive system. Apart from that, fiber has been shown to have several health benefits. Following are some of the health benefits of fiber.
- Support weight loss
- Lower the risk of developing coronary artery diseases
- Improve cholesterol level
- Lower the risk of developing several gastrointestinal diseases
- Aid your body to absorb minerals
- Prevent colorectal cancer
Recommendations for Fiber intake
An adequate amount of fiber is an essential part of your diet. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can consume soluble and insoluble fiber.
Foods such as dry beans, fruits, nuts, oatmeal, oat bran, and seeds are some examples of soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber includes most vegetables such as sweet potatoes, legumes and brown rice, fruits, whole-grain cereals, wheat bran, etc.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggest that a person can consume 28 grams of dietary fiber daily. Fiber doesn’t cancel out carbohydrates by consuming more of them and fewer processed foods.
According to Dietary Reference Intakes, fiber recommendations will vary depending on the age, sex, and medical conditions of an individual.
However, men between 19 and 50 can take 38 grams of fiber per day. When it comes to women who are between 19 and 50 can intake 25 grams per day.
Does processed carbohydrate lack Fiber?
Yes. According to the Harvard School of Public Health notes, processed foods like pastries, soft drinks, white bread, etc. lack fiber content. It totally depends on the quality of the carbohydrates in the food.
Processed carbohydrates lead to several health issues such as diabetes and heart attack. Therefore, the school recommends switching to nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, beans, vegetables, and whole grains. Foods that are high in fiber carbs do not elevate blood sugar levels.
The Glycemic index
The glycemic index is a value assigned to foods to realize how those foods influence blood glucose levels. The American Diabetes Association suggests that foods that are low on the glycemic index raise blood sugar more slowly.
Fiber-rich foods such as fruits, whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, and oat bran are some of the foods that are beneficial to maintain blood sugar levels. Foods that are high on the glycemic index cause a high increase in blood sugar. Foods that are low in fiber lead to this condition.
What are the types of Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are an essential nutrient in foods. They come in a variety of forms. However, the most common form of carbs are sugars, starches, and fibers. Foods high in carbs are beneficial to your healthy diet.
Carbohydrates convert glucose into energy which is used to support bodily functions and physical activity.
As aforementioned, when it comes to carbohydrates, quality is more important than quantity. Here are the different types of carbohydrates typically you consume.
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that is found in fruits, vegetables, and milk products. Two types of sugar are naturally occurring such as those in milk and fruits and added sugars.
According to American Heart Association, women shouldn’t take more than 25 grams of added sugar. For men, consuming more than 36 grams of added sugar per day is harmful to their health.
Starches are complex carbohydrates that can be found in plants including grains, vegetables, legumes, etc. Starches provide vitamins and minerals to your body. It helps to maintain your blood sugar levels stable, and fullness lasts longer.
Similar to starches, fiber is also a complex type of carbohydrate. It is an indigestible part of plant foods including legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Dietary fiber passes through the intestines and the insoluble fiber dissolves in the water.
What are Net carbs?
Net carbs are the total amount of fully digestible carbohydrates in a meal or a product. It is easy to find the number of net carbs in packaged food.
All you need to do is take the total carbs and subtract the amount of fiber and sugar alcohol. The net carbs of fiber and alcohol are considered to be zero.
People focus more on fiber-rich, low-carbohydrate foods. People who follow a strict ketogenic diet have to care about the count of carbohydrates they consume. So, people would prefer to include fiber-rich, low-carbohydrate foods in their diet.
Foods such as Endive, Spinach, Bok Choy, Lettuce, Arugula, Watercress, and Alfalfa sprouts are highly recommended to include in a ketogenic diet. A cup of these vegetables serves less than one net carbohydrate.