The Difference Between Soluble and Insoluble Fiber

Dietary fiber is found in the edible portions of plant cell walls that are resistant to digestion. Because fiber-rich foods take longer to break down after consumption, the body feels fuller longer, leading to fewer calories consumed over an extended amount of time. According to RDA recommendations, adults should consume 25 to 38 grams daily, with a three to one ratio of insoluble to soluble fiber.


  1. Insoluble Vs. Soluble Fiber

    • 1

      Insoluble fiber is different from soluble fiber, in so far is it does not absorb or dissolve into water, making it more difficult for the body to digest. In addition to the benefit of feeling fuller longer, this slow digestive process encourages a steady release of insulin into the blood stream, as opposed to the dramatic insulin spike caused by starches, white flour and refined sugars. Insoluble fiber is believed to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, heart disease, constipation and hemorrhoid development. Sources of insoluble fiber include nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables, bran and whole grains.

    • 2

      Your morning oatmeal is a great source of fiber. One half cups oats mixed with one cup water yields one cup of hot cereal. This is because soluble fiber found in the oats swells into a gel-like substance when mixed with water. Soluble fiber is believed to maintain normal glucose levels and reduce cholesterol. Sources of soluble fiber include oats and oatmeal, legumes, barley and fruits and vegetables.

    • 3

      While 25 to 38 g per day may seem like a lot, there are several ways to increase the fiber in your diet. Begin by substituting whole wheat or multigrain bread for white bread, and whole flour for while flour in baking. Next, replace white rice and potato sides for brown or wild rice, in addition to whole wheat or multigrain pasta for the typical refined pasta. Add a salad of crisp greens---such as endive, radicchio, carrots, spinach and snap peas---to your midday or evening meal, in addition to a side of steamed broccoli, cauliflower or green beans. You many even choose to replace meat with bean and legumes for one of the three meals a day.

    • 4

      Just because a product claims to be whole wheat or multigrain, does not necessarily mean it contains more fiber than other products. For this reason, it is important to read and compare labels, particularly when purchasing bread and pasta products. As a general rule, however, whole grain products contain more fiber than multigrain products, though the ratio of insoluble to soluble fiber varies.

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  • Photo Credit Oatmeal with blackberries. Bowlful of cereal. image by Monika 3 Steps Ahead from

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