Beyond dietary fiber

Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Oct;54(4):615-7. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/54.4.615.


The complexity of plant foods high in dietary fiber poses new challenges to clinical investigators and leads to many study-design dilemmas. There are basic differences in studying purified polymers, highly concentrated but not purified fibers, and diets high in high-fiber whole foods. The fibrils of the plant cell wall are most likely altered when prepared as a pure chemical entity, and when fiber concentrates (eg, wheat bran) are used, the method of preparation may alter the composition of the final product. Whole-plant, high-fiber foods are complex storehouses of a diversity of polymers, including resistant starch, and of bioactive compounds. Furthermore, the addition of a reasonable amount of high-fiber food to the diet not only adds dietary fiber but many digestible, caloric macronutrients that alter the entire diet composition. These problems and dilemmas are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fiber / chemistry*
  • Eating
  • Food Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Plants, Edible / analysis*
  • Polymers
  • Seeds / analysis
  • Starch / administration & dosage
  • Starch / metabolism


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Polymers
  • Starch