New research from the University of Minnesota suggests more reasons people should be prioritizing fiber in their diets. The study was a collaboration between the university and Brightseed Bioactives, a biotechnology company based in South San Francisco, CA.
Researchers found each plant source of insoluble dietary fiber contains unique bioactives which are compounds linked to lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
“Fiber is the marker of health that is included in our dietary guidelines found on product labels, but our research indicates that we need to ensure the other valuable components of fiber-containing plant sources—the bioactives—are also recognized as providing valuable benefits for human health,” said Joanne Slavin, a co-author and a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota.
Researchers discovered a variety of plants such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains contain insoluble dietary fiber. Each source contains unique bioactives.
They also discovered desirable bioactives including quercetin, resveratrol, catechins, anthocyanins, lutein, lycopene and beta-carotene.
These plant sources could also be used to fortify processed foods to increase nutritional value. Other byproducts such as peels, hulls, pulp or pomace are also high in fiber and bioactives. Notably, consumer acceptability of the food products did not decrease, according to the study.
Jan-Willem Van Klinken, a co-author and the senior vice president of medical, scientific and regulatory affairs for Brightseed, said that while eating more fruits and vegetables isn’t a new idea, it’s something that many people still struggle to do properly.
“If we can offer widely accessible fiber-fortified products that have been developed to enhance rather than negate bioactive content, we can provide consumers with increase nutritional value,” Van Klinken said.
Further research is required to identify proper extraction and processing methods to maintain the bioactive compounds, researchers said.
“The collection of literature we reviewed, and the results of this research can serve as a paradigm shift in how the food and health industries, as well as consumers, view insoluble dietary fiber and bioactives,” said Madeline Timm, the lead author and a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.