Fiber for Good Health

Fiber is one of the components that make "good carbohydrate"—found in foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables—good. Fiber is the part of plant cells that humans can't digest. Food processing—such as milling whole wheat into white flour and peeling skins—removes the fiber. So, to reach the target intake of at least 25 grams of fiber per day, try to eat foods in their natural state.

Having heard claims that fiber lowers blood cholesterol, promotes regular bowel movements, and improves blood sugar control, sports-active people are seeking out high-fiber, carbohydrate-rich foods, or the "good carbohydrate" that should be the foundation of a sports diet. Although it's difficult to tease out which of these benefits are related to fiber and which to the other healthful components of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, and nuts, you won't go wrong adding roughage to your diet.

Until recently, fiber was thought to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Disappointing results from recent studies fail to show a protective benefit of fiber (Rock 2007). Yet, fiber's positive association with lowering the risk of heart disease, helping to control diabetes, aiding with weight control, and preventing and treating constipation offer more than enough reasons to stack your diet with fiber-rich foods.

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