Dietary fiber has long history, its term originating with Hipsley (1953) who coined dietary fiber as a non digestible constituents making up the plant cell wall. Later, dietary fiber was defined as a ubiquitous component of plant foods and includes materials of diverse chemical and morphological structure, resistant to the action of human alimentary enzymes (Kay 1982). The most consistent definition that is now accepted is from Trowell. (1985): “Dietary fibre consists of remnants of plant cells resistant to hydrolysis (digestion) by the alimentary enzymes of man”, whose components are hemicellulose, cellulose, lignin, oligosaccharides, pectins, gums and waxes. Fiber is mostly in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Fiber is a class of non digestible carbohydrates and lignin which is associated with numerous health benefits. Dietary fibers are those which are native to plants while functional fibers are those which are added to foods. There are two types of fibers:-
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to the stool, preventing constipation.
Soluble fiber absorbs water, forming a gel-like substance in the digestive system. Soluble fiber may help lower cholesterol levels and help regulate blood sugar levels.
Several health benefits have been attributed to fiber consumption, including:
- Lower cholesterol and decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease
- decreased mortality risk from circulatory, digestive, and inflammatory diseases
- reduced risk of developing some forms of cancer
- Improved insulin sensitivity and glycemic control
- Weight and appetite control
- Prevention and relief from constipation
- increased calcium absorption and bone mineral density
Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet and good for health. Therefore, an adult should take at least the minimum recommended (20-35 grams) dietary fiber in his/ her daily diet. The best sources of dietary fiber are fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, gram (Dal Chana ) and whole –grain. Besides fiber, whole food contains nutrients including antioxidants and other biological active components which offer us better protection against chronic diseases.
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