Health and the Fiber Factor

by | Apr 13, 2021 | Nutrition

Image: Shutterstock

Researchers investigated how the differences in the physical structure of cell walls from wheat and chickpeas affected how much starch in the cells was digested.

A diet rich in fiber is a best practice for heart health and diabetes prevention. Plant cell walls are the primary source of dietary fiber, and they create a sort of “capsule” around the starch in cells.

Seeds and grains are good sources of fiber, but processing them can have the undesirable effect of making it easier for digestive enzymes to make it through cell walls and start breaking down starch. This, in turn, can lead to spikes in blood glucose.

Researchers at the Quadram Institute and King’s College London investigated how the differences in the physical structure of cell walls from wheat and chickpeas affected how much starch in the cells was digested. They also compared the impact of different types of processing.

They found that the main enzyme for digesting starch could penetrate the walls of wheat cells, but not the thicker and differently constructed walls of chickpeas—except in areas the walls were damaged by freeze milling. The findings suggest that more attention to differences in the cell walls of seeds and grains, and the ways they are prepared for consumption, could reduce the likelihood that foods viewed as good sources of fiber might end up having a bad effect on blood sugar.

“We have shown how a better understanding of fiber structure can help to design fiber-rich food ingredients and products that are likely to be much more effective in helping manage blood glucose, and so maintain health and reduce disease risk such as type 2 diabetes,” said lead author Dr Cathrina Edwards.

eSavvyHealth’s “Carbohydrate Wars” course can help you understand more about how your body deals with starches, and the impact of food processing.

Fundamentals of Health Alliance

Fundamentals of Health Alliance

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The Fundamentals of Health Alliance works to publish useful and reliable information about nutrition and health. Their mission is to empower readers to be informed with honest, non-biased information about food, nutrition and the vital components of health.

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