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Types of fibre and their health benefits


Soluble fibres:

name of fibre

food sources

potential health benefits


Banana, chicory, onions, garlic, wheat, sugar beets, Jerusalem and globe artichoke. Inulin can be extracted from some of these vegetables and made into a pure fibre powder, which is then added to processed foods to boost fibre content.

Inulin and similar plant substances are called 'fructans'. Fructans are used by 'friendly' bacteria in the gut to boost their numbers. May enhance immune function. Excess may cause abdominal bloating and discomfort.


Natto from soybeans, flaxseeds, chia seeds, kelp, aloe vera, okra, plantain.

No confirmed health benefit. Mucilage extract often used as demulcent to soothe eg tickly cough medicine.


Naturally found in oats, oat bran, barley, beans, peas, barley, flaxseed, berries, soybeans, bananas, oranges, apples, carrots.

Helps lower 'bad' LDL cholesterol, which may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Oat beta-glucans help regulate blood sugar levels. Beta- glucans can also help support the immune system against infections.

Pectin and gums

(both 'soluble' and 'insoluble')

Naturally found in fruits, berries and seeds. Also extracted from citrus peel and other plants to help 'set' jams.

Slows the passage of food through the intestinal GI tract. Helps lower blood cholesterol.

Polydextrose polyols

Added to processed foods as a bulking agent and sugar substitute. Made from dextrose, sorbitol and citric acid.

Adds bulk to poo, helps prevent constipation. May cause bloating or gas, especially in those with irritable bowel syndrome.

Psyllium (also known as Ispaghula)

Extracted from seeds or husks of plantago ovata plant. Used in supplements, fibre drinks and added to foods.

Helps lower cholesterol and prevent constipation. Supplements must be taken with plenty of water.

Resistant starch

Undigestible starch found in seeds, legumes and unprocessed whole grains. One type formed when cooked starches are cooled, for example chilled pasta or rice salads.

Fermentable by bowel bacteria to improve bowel health.

Wheat dextrin

Extracted from wheat starch and widely used to add fibre in processed foods.

Helps lower cholesterol (LDL and total cholesterol) which may reduce risks of coronary heart disease. Cannot be guaranteed to be gluten free.


Dietitian reviewed by Catherine Collins RD


WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on October 20, 2017

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