How to Understand the New Definition of Dietary Fiber

fda definition dietary fiber

It’s important for your consumers to understand the benefits that fiber can provide so they can make sure to choose high-fiber products.

Fiber has been a word that has lately seen a huge increase in usage over the past few years. Most consumers are now probably familiar with the word fiber although they might not have a full understanding of the two different types and the benefits that fiber can provide. To better educate Americans, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) included a definition of “dietary fiber” in their Nutrition and Supplement Facts label final rule. As a food manufacturer, it’s important for your consumers to understand the benefits that fiber can provide so they can make sure to choose high-fiber products.

Two Types of Dietary Fiber

To fully understand dietary fiber, we still start with the two most general types of fiber.; soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber are types of carbohydrates found in most plant foods and make you ffeel full. Feeling full can help consumers eat less and remain satiated longer.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the stomach which is digested by bacteria in the large intestine which provides some calories. Soluble fiber can help lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood. Soluble fiber can also help control blood sugar levels by preventing rapid rises in blood sugar following a meal. Here are a few foods that contain soluble fiber:

  • Beans and peas

  • Fruits

  • Oats (such as oat bran and oatmeal)

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Vegetables

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and passes through the gastrointestinal tract intact so it does not provide a source of calories. With insoluble fiber remaining intact, it provides “bulk” with stool formation and speeds up the movement of waste through the digestive system. This means insoluble fiber helps prevent constipation. Here are a few foods that contain insoluble fiber:

  • Fruits

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Vegetables

  • Wheat bran

  • Whole grain foods (such as brown rice and whole grain breads, cereals, and pasta)

FDA Definition of Dietary Fiber

The FDA defines dietary fiber as “non-digestible soluble and insoluble carbohydrates (with 3 or more monomeric units), and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants; isolated or synthetic non-digestible carbohydrates (with 3 or more monomeric units) determined by FDA to have physiological effects that are beneficial to human health.” This means that food that meets this definition can be noted as “dietary fiber” on a nutrition facts label. The FDA further lists the following beneficial physiological effects that the fiber can provide to consumers:

  • Lowering blood glucose

  • Lowering cholesterol levels

  • Lowering blood pressure

  • Increase in frequency of bowel movements (improved laxation)

  • Increased mineral absorption in the intestinal tract

  • Reduced energy intake (for example, due to the fiber promoting a feeling of fullness).

If your food can provide one of these benefits, consumers will almost assuredly be more drawn to those food products. Here is a list provided by of food

ingredients that can be added to a recipe to increase the fiber content.

  • Arabinoxylan

  • Beta-Glucan

  • Carboxymethylcellulose

  • Cellulose

  • Chicory Root Fiber

  • Cottonseed Fiber

  • Edible Bean Powder

  • Fructo-Oligosaccharides

  • Galacto-Oligosaccharides

  • Hydroxypropyl-Methylcellulose

  • Inulin

  • Methylcellulose

  • Modified Resistant Starch

  • Oligofructose

  • Pea Fiber

  • Pectin

  • Polydextrose

  • Polyfructans

  • Psyllium

  • Resistant Starch

  • Resistant Dextrin

  • Resistant Maltodextrin

  • Rice Bran

  • Short Chain Fructooligosaccharides

  • Soluble Corn Fiber

  • Soluble Dextrin

  • Soy Fiber

  • Wheat Bran

  • Xanthan Gum

Increasing the fiber content of your food will provide additional health benefits and you will be able to show these benefits on the nutrition facts label. If you would like to test the different impacts that different ingredients have on your nutrition facts labels, you can do this with LabelCalc’s software.

LabelCalc is an industry-leading recipe analysis tool used by food manufactures, global retail stores and food entrepreneurs. To get started, see our pricing today.


What is LabelCalc?

LabelCalcⓇ is one of FoodCalc LLC’s two nutrition analysis products, created to help meet the needs of the food industry. Based in San Francisco, CA, we are a nationally recognized provider of online nutrition analysis that is fast, accurate, and FDA-compliant.

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