Are you a confused consumer, trying to get more fiber, but not exactly sure where to turn? I mean there are the obvious answers, apples, oats, beans etc. But what about those very tempting chocolate bars with fiber added? In a recent short-term study these “Fiber-rich” bars were put to the test. In short, they failed to to keep women full and satisfied. Does this mean they are bad? No, but what this does mean is that you’re probably better off getting your fiber from the true sources; fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Let me explain……
The fibers being added to many foods (especially snack foods like breakfast bars) these days are called Isolated Fibers. They get their name from the fact that they are isolated from plants. So, let’s just use apples as a hypothetical example. Let’s say I was a food manufacturer and I wanted to add more fiber to my snack bars. Instead of adding the entire apple to my bar (probably not possible) I would isolate the fiber from the apple and insert it into my bar. Now, granted, this isn’t really what happens, but you get the idea.
So now food manufacturers, well aware that Americans are trying to get more fiber in their diets, are adding these “isolated fibers” to things like snack bars, and even cottage cheese and yogurt (you may see the words “inulin” or “chicory root extract” on a food label; that’s isolated fiber).
Source: iStock Photo
I’ve actually had conversations with people who claim to get their fiber from yogurt and 2-3 snack bars a day. This is sad, in my opinion, because many times that means they are ignoring fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. But why eat those fruits and veggies if you can get fiber in yogurt?! I’ll tell you why; yogurt, cottage cheese, and snack bars are missing the phytonutrients/antioxidants (and so much more left to be discovered) found in these wholesome plant foods.Want to read more about isolated fibers?
Who needs to eat vegetables when you can get fiber in juice and yogurt now?! Ummmm, WE ALL DO!
In the the article I linked above, they end by saying;
Slavin said she thinks it’s the total experience of eating fiber-rich foods – the chewing, the sight of a big bowl of oatmeal – that makes people feel more satisfied. “You really know you’re eating fiber,” she said.
With a fiber-added chocolate bar, the experience is different. “With these products, it’s like eating a brownie,” Slavin said.
Of course, fiber is only one of the nutrients we need. Slavin said that even if you do choose fiber-added processed foods, you still need to eat fruits, vegetables and other “whole foods” that give us a range of nutrients.
In general, experts recommend limiting processed foods in favor of whole ones.
The Berkeley Wellness Letter published a great article all about them back in December of last year. It’s worth reading, if you have the time. I also wanted to share this article about the differences between all the new “smart pastas” (with extra fiber, omega-3, protein, etc.) and ones with whole grains. Sometimes it can be confusing as far as which one is the best choice.