Dietary fiber is vastly known as a key component of a healthy eating diet. Dietary fibers are a made up of saccharide-based molecules “that can bind potential nutrients and nutrient precursors to prevent their absorption” (1)
Making dietary soluble fiber an important part of your everyday diet can bring about some pretty important health benefits, from reduced lipid levels to weight loss, better immunity, lower blood pressure and keeping the blood glucose levels in check. Many of these health benefits lead to an overall lower risk of developing a cardiovascular disease. (2)
Regular fiber intake can help reduce the risks of developing a broad range of diseases
Although many of the benefits of dietary fiber are already known, the average fiber intake for US children, for example, is less than half of the recommended levels.
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Benefits of Soluble Fiber
The main benefits of soluble fiber are:
1. Helps with weight management.
Soluble fiber helps with weight management due to its property of lowering fat absorption. It is a good supplement in cases of obesity, as it helps with weight loss, as well.
2. Lowers Cholesterol.
Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and over time it can even lower the overall cholesterol levels in the blood.
3. Balance the blood sugar levels.
Soluble fiber works as a “referee” slowing down the digestion rate of carbohydrates. No blood sugar spike is allowed.
4. Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
This happens because of all the three benefits above: lower cholesterol levels, balanced glucose levels, and fat absorbing properties.
5. Reduces the risk of several other diseases/conditions.
High intake of dietary fiber can reduce the risk of developing a series of afflictions, like:
- coronary heart disease
- gastroesophageal reflux disease
- duodenal ulcer
- high cholesterol levels
- high blood pressure (3)
6. Feeds gut bacteria.
One last benefit of soluble fiber which is usually overlooked is the ability to feed gut bacteria, as it is fermentable in the colon and it can help the bacteria thrive for longer.
All in all, both soluble and insoluble fibers are beneficial to our health and have been used as a dietary aid since the beginning of man.
Research on Soluble Fiber benefits
One recent study reviewed some previous works on the hypocholesterolemic effects of dietary soluble fibers and the consumption of fiber-rich foods and came up with some very interesting findings:
- Rich consumption of water-soluble, viscous-forming fibers can lead to reducing lipoprotein cholesterol levels by 5-10%.
- No considerable changes in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels were recorded
- Soluble fibers can lower cholesterol levels depending on their physical or chemical properties
- Fibers with medium to high molecular weight fibers are more likely to reduce the lipid levels
- The most effective fiber-rich foods were: citrus foods, flax seeds, peas, whole barley, beans, apples, and whole oats.
These findings were published in a 2016 study from the Department of Internal Medicine, University of California. (2)
In a 2002 research undergone by The US Food and Drug Administration, it was found that dietary intake of 4 servings/d of β-glucan (0.75 g/serving) and psyllium (1.78 g/serving) would reduce cardiovascular disease risk. (4). The test was run on sixty-eight hyperlipidemic adults who ate a control low-fat and low-cholesterol diet for 1 month each in a randomized crossover study. Blood samples and blood pressure readings were done in week 2 and week 4 of the test. The overall results confirmed the US Food and Drug Administration advised soluble fiber dose intake to have effects on the reduction of cardiovascular disease risk on a population basis. The findings are not relevant enough for a treatment in case of heart diseases, though.