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Fiber

Dietary fiber is the part of plant foods that the body cannot digest. Eating foods with fiber helps to keep the digestive tract healthy and stabilize blood sugar levels.

Fiber in the diet is classified as either soluble or insoluble.

Soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol. Foods high in soluble fiber include oat bran, oatmeal, dry beans and peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries, and apple pulp (the solids left after making apple juice).

Insoluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber does not lower blood cholesterol, but it is important in keeping the bowels healthy and preventing constipation and diverticular disease. Foods high in insoluble fiber include whole wheat breads, whole-grain cereals, and whole bran. Other examples are cabbage, beets, carrots, brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower, and apple skin.

Bran is widely known as a good source of fiber. But many commercially made bran products, such as muffins and waffles, actually contain very little bran, and they are often high in saturated and total fat. Check the labels for the actual fiber content.