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Medicine LibreTexts

4.2: Benefits of Fiber

  • Page ID
    21118
  • Learning Objectives

    • Identify the health benefits of eating a diet high in fiber.

    Health Benefits of Fiber in the Diet

    Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains all contain fiber. Americans typically do not consume the recommended amount of fruits, vegetables, or whole grains. Only 12.2% of adults meet the daily fruit recommendation; only 9.3% meet the daily vegetable recommendation1. The recommendation for grains is that at least 50% of the grains we eat should be whole grains. According to a recent National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief, Americans consume ~16% of their grains as whole grains2. However, research indicates that consuming higher amounts of dietary fiber decreases the risk for Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease3,4.

    Benefits of fiber include:

    • improved blood glucose control (fiber helps delay the absorption of glucose into the blood)
    • potential aid for weight control (fiber helps provide a feeling of fullness)
    • helps reduce blood cholesterol levels
    • supports digestion and optimizes colon health by helping to prevent:
      • constipation
      • colon cancer5
      • diverticulosis (out-pockets of the colon; see Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\)) and diverticulitis (inflamed out-pockets)

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Diverticulosis

    Key Takeaways

    • Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contribute fiber to our diets.
    • Consuming higher amounts of fiber can benefit blood glucose control, weight managment, heart health, and colon health.

    References

    1. Lee-Kwan SH, Moore LV, Blanck HM, Harris DM, Galuska D. Disparities in State-Specific Adult Fruit and Vegetable Consumption — United States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:1241–1247. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6645a1.
    2. Ahluwalia N, Herrick KA, Terry AL, Hughes JP. Contribution of whole grains to total grains intake among adults aged 20 and over: United States, 2013–2016. NCHS Data Brief, no 341. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2019.
    3. Reynolds AN, Akerman AP, Mann J. Dietary fibre and whole grains in diabetes management: Systematic review and meta-analyses. PLoS Med. 2020;17(3):e1003053. Published 2020 Mar 6. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1003053.
    4. McRae MP. Dietary Fiber Is Beneficial for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses. J Chiropr Med. 2017;16(4):289-299. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2017.05.005.
    5. Gianfredi V, Salvatori T, Villarini M, Moretti M, Nucci D, Realdon S. Is dietary fibre truly protective against colon cancer? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2018;69(8):904-915. doi:10.1080/09637486.2018.1446917.