Fiber foods

Food Processing May Eliminate Health Benefits of High Fiber Foods

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Recent studies have shown how fiber can reduce the risk of illness in consumers. A new study by researchers at the University of Otago has confirmed these findings, especially with regard to diabetes; However, the way the food is prepared could affect the fiber benefits.

Researchers have learned that fiber can increase the life expectancy of people with diabetes, but opting for processed foods may reduce nutrient benefits.

“Whole grain foods are now widely regarded as beneficial, but more and more of the products available on supermarket shelves are ultra-processed,” said researcher Jim Mann.

Stay away from processed foods

To arrive at these results, the researchers carried out two complementary studies. The first study evaluated data from more than 8,300 participants with type 1 or type 2 diabetes; the second study analyzed the effect of processed foods on participants with type 2 diabetes.

In the first study, participants reported on their daily food intake, giving researchers a clear picture of how much fiber they were getting each day. Researchers learned that those who ate more than the recommended serving of fiber each day reduced their risk of premature death by more than 30%.

“Try different ways to increase your fiber intake, see what works best for you,” said researcher Dr Andrew Reynolds. “If you eat white or refined bread or buns, try switching to whole grain bread or buns. Try brown rice, try brown pasta, try adding half a can of legumes to meals you are already making.

Building on these results, the second study asked participants to experiment with different types of fiber sources to determine how they affected the body. The manipulation of the participants’ diets took place over two two-week periods; participants alternated between heavily processed foods for two weeks and less processed foods for an additional two weeks.

Based on blood sugar readings, heavily processed foods performed poorer health outcomes for participants than foods that were not as heavily processed.

Fiber from better sources

Although these studies focused on people with diabetes, the researchers explained that all consumers can benefit from adding more fiber to their diet. However, the source of this fiber can ultimately make the biggest difference.

“… We are now starting to understand that how food is processed is also important, and for whole grains, when you finely grind them, you can take away their benefits,” said Dr. Reynolds.