Ask Tufts Experts: Added Fibers; Cherry Juice for Arthritis

I’ve noticed that a lot of food packages boast the product has extra fiber. Are added fibers as good for us as natural?

Nicola McKeown, PhD, an associate professor at the Friedman School, answers: “Dietary fiber has a role in helping to lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels, reduce calorie intake, and increase the frequency of bowel movements. It also supports a healthy gut microbiome. It is recommended that adults consume between 25 and 30 grams of dietary fiber a day. The average American currently gets about half that amount.

“Fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, legumes, and whole grains are excellent sources of intrinsic (natural and intact) fiber. The Dietary Fiber listed on Nutrition Facts labels represents a total of three categories of fibers: intrinsic; isolated/ added; and synthetic. Not all added fibers have the same health benefits as fibers found naturally in plant foods. To be included as Dietary Fiber on food labels, isolated and synthetic fibers must have demonstrated a beneficial physiological effect on human health. Currently, based on scientific evidence, the FDA allows beta-glucan soluble fiber, psyllium husk, cellulose, guar gum, pectin, locust bean gum, and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose. Inulin, alginate, high amylose starch, and seven others are under consideration to be added to that list. The names of any added fibers in a food must be listed in the ingredient list. Look for words like fiber, gum, and starch, and specific names of commonly added fibers.

“Some fibers are added simply to meet health-conscious consumers’ desire for high fiber foods! Watch out for added fibers in products like cookies, ice cream, or salty snacks. These processed foods are not equivalent to naturally fiber-rich foods like fruit and nuts, not only in fiber content, but also with respect to other nutrients. No amount of added fiber can make up for the potentially low content of beneficial nutrients and the possible negative health effects of things like added sugars and high levels of sodium that come with many processed foods.”

I have heard that cherries are good for arthritis. Can drinking cherry juice really help reduce inflammation?

Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN, managing editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers: “Anecdotal evidence suggests eating cherries or drinking cherry juice may help with inflammatory conditions like gout and osteoarthritis.  So far, results of research have been mixed.

“Like other dark red fruits and vegetables, cherries (especially tart cherries) are rich in polyphenols, especially proanthocyanins, anthocyanins, and flavonols. These phytochemicals are believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the body. It is therefore possible they could slow the progression of osteoarthritis by decreasing inflammation and reducing cartilage degradation. However, a 2019 review of research to date found there were relatively few studies testing the impact of consuming cherries and cherry juice on osteoarthritis, and the existing studies were not consistent in the way they measured physiological changes and outcomes like pain, quality of life, and physical ability. This leaves us uncertain as to whether phytochemical intake from foods like cherries really helps people with conditions like osteoarthritis, let alone how many cherries to eat or juice to drink to see benefits.

“If you would like to try cherry juice, watch out for added sugars. Look for tart cherry juice (which has more polyphenols as well as less sugar), and don’t overindulge. (Since we do not have data to indicate how much cherry juice might be beneficial, include your consumption in the recommendation to limit 100% fruit juices to eight ounces a day. This helps keep free sugar intake to a minimum.)

“Like other fruits, cherries are a healthy addition to any dietary pattern. Including a wide variety of fruits (and vegetables) of varying colors in your diet insures you will get plenty of nutrients and phytochemicals to support your health.”

The post Ask Tufts Experts: Added Fibers; Cherry Juice for Arthritis appeared first on University Health News.

Read Original Article: Ask Tufts Experts: Added Fibers; Cherry Juice for Arthritis »