Friday, January 8, 2010

Wheat and Dietary Fiber

A kernel of wheat is made up of three parts: the endosperm which is the inner part of the wheat kernel, the bran or outer layers of the kernel, and the germ or embryo part of the kernel. All three are necessary to gain the full nutritional benefit of wheat. Wheat bran is an excellent source of dietary fiber.

According to the Mayo Clinic, dietary fiber, or roughage, includes all parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb. Unlike other food components such as fats, proteins or carbs – which your body breaks down and absorbs – fiber isn’t digested by your body. Therefore, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, colon and out of your body. It might seem like fiber doesn’t do much, but it has several important roles in maintaining health.

1. Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it, decreasing your chance of constipation.
2. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease).
3. Soluble fiber helps lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels, as well as reducing blood pressure and inflammation of the heart.
4. Fiber can slow the absorption of sugar, which reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as helping balance blood sugar for diabetics.
5. High-fiber foods also aid in weight loss by making you feel fuller longer, consuming fewer calories for the same volume of food.

Good sources of fiber include: grains and whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas and other legumes, nuts and seeds.

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