08 July, 2011
What Are Soluble Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates should make up the bulk of a healthy diet. Approximately 45 to 65 percent of your total calories should come from a carbohydrate source. A healthy carbohydrate is a soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is a healthy and smart food to eat. It can help you lose weight and can even reduce your risk for chronic diseases.
Carbohydrates encompass many types of foods, including grains, milk, fruit sugars and fibers. A soluble carbohydrate refers to the fiber category of carbohydrates. There are two types of fibers found naturally: soluble and insoluble. A soluble carbohydrate is a soluble fiber.
Fiber, by nature, is indigestible. This means although your body can break it down, it cannot absorb it. When soluble fiber passes through your digestive system, bacteria inside of your intestines go to work on it. Soluble fiber turns into a gummy substance that bonds with water. Soluble fiber is termed as such because it can dissolve in water.
Benefits of Soluble Carbohydrates
A soluble carbohydrate can help to control your weight, your blood glucose and your cholesterol. Since soluble fiber absorbs water, it fills up your gut. As it travels through your digestive system, its form increases in size. This helps to reduce your hunger cravings and control your eating, which may lead to weight loss. Soluble fiber, also because of its form during digestion, can block the absorption of other nutrients. In doing so, other carbohydrates that might spike your blood glucose do not enter your bloodstream. Instead, there is a modest rise in glucose over time that can offer you better blood sugar control. This is why soluble fiber can help to lower your cholesterol. It blocks the absorption of fat and cholesterol by your intestines, as well.
Sources and Recommendations
According to the Mayo Clinic website, recommendations for fiber intake vary by age and gender. For a male under 50 years old, fiber intake should be about 38 g per day. For a female under 50 years old, fiber intake should remain around 25 g per day. A male over 50 needs 30 g per day and a female over 50 needs 21 g per day. Sources of soluble fiber include oats, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
- "Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies"; Frances Sizer and Eleanor Whitney; 2004.
- Mayo Clinic.com; Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet; November 5, 2010
- Medline Plus; Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber; Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP; July 21, 2010
- Nadianb/iStock/Getty Images