The functions of soluble and insoluble fiber vary. The primary role of insoluble fiber is to aid in the digestion process. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, has a large variety of roles in the human body. It helps to slow glucose absorption, for example, which regulates blood sugar levels and is of great benefit to the human body. It also helps to lower cholesterol, which is an important health indicator.
Soluble fiber and insoluble fiber are both crucial for maintaining a healthy body. There are several differences between the two, though, that are worth noting. The average American does not get enough of either, so think about boosting your intake of both.
Role in the Body
Based on the different roles that soluble and insoluble fiber play in the body, the benefits derived vary as well. Because soluble fiber plays such an important role in regulating blood sugar levels, it can help prevent or reduce the risk of diabetes. There is also a reduced risk of heart disease associated with soluble fiber because it helps to lower cholesterol. By helping to regulate the digestive system, insoluble fiber can reduce constipation.
Sources of soluble and insoluble fiber overlap, but there are foods that provide far more of one than the other. The skins of many fruits and vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber. Many grains, as well as nuts and seeds, are good sources of insoluble fiber. Legumes, fruits and fruit juices, as well as some grains like oats, are good sources of soluble fiber.
One of the key differences between insoluble and soluble fiber is the calories provided. Contrary to what some believe, soluble fiber does actually provide some caloric content. Insoluble fiber, given that it is insoluble, does not provide any caloric content. The caloric content of soluble fiber is not great, and is probably somewhere around two calories for every gram of soluble fiber, which does not make it a significant source of calories.
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