You have probably noticed that there are tons of “high fiber” products on the market these days that look and taste just like regular old refined foods — things like Fiber One bars, “whole grain white” breads, Light English muffins, and even high-fiber fruit yogurt. How can these heavily processed foods have so much fiber? Because they contain “isolated fibers” — inulin, oat fiber, cellulose fiber, polydextrose, and maltodextrin — which are added to otherwise low-fiber foods so that a company can claim their food is an excellent source of fiber.
Are these processed products as healthy as the naturally-occurring fiber found in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits? Probably not. Though the fiber content on the Nutrition Facts Label may be high, we don’t know if these foods are as beneficial as whole, intact fiber found in unprocessed foods because their effectiveness has not been studied. But as always, it’s best to get your nutrients from real food (would you eat Cheetos and Oreos all day then take a multi-vitamin and call yourself a healthy eater?). So aim to get your 25-30 grams of daily fiber from real whole grains (here’s how to tell if a product is really whole grain), vegetables, and fruits.
Still not convinced? You will be after you consider these points:
- Isolated fibers often cause unpleasant side effects like gas, bloating, and diarrhea. (I dare you to eat a Fiber One bar and then go on a date — you’ll never eat one again).
- Highly processed foods, high-fiber or not, are usually high in sugar, salt, preservatives, and other additives — not things you need more of in your body. Check out the ingredients in these supposedly healthy Light English Muffins: