Fiber is a carbohydrate found in plant foods: beans, fruit, grains, nuts, and vegetables. Technically, it isn’t a nutrient because it isn’t broken down and absorbed. But that’s what makes it so beneficial.

There are several types of fiber, but they all fall into two broad categories: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber is soft and dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance. It bulks up your stool, making it easier to pass. Sources include beans, oats, sweet potatoes, and the flesh of some fruit.

Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, vegetables, and fruit skin. “This kind of fiber promotes contractions of the digestive tract that move food and waste through the body, ” says Lindsay Malone, R.D., a dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine.

Many plant foods contain both, so by eating a variety, you’ll cover all your bases.

Source: Consumer Reports on Health March 2018

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