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Is Glycemic Index Useful? continued...

She says that fiber-rich carbohydrates increase the bulk of the meal, making you feel fuller. This in turn, helps moderate the amount of food you eat.

So, what is fiber, exactly?

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Nutritionists describe soluble fiber as a sticky substance that is found in fruit, vegetables, dried beans and peas, and oat products. Insoluble fiber, which is gritty in texture, accounts for 70% of the fiber in our diets, mostly from wheat bran.

Benefits of High-Fiber Carbs

"We eat way too many calories and way too many empty calories," she says. "Fiber can help you avoid overeating. We've also found that fiber can bind with cholesterol in the digestive tract, thus lowering bloodcholesterol."

Another important point about fiber-rich foods is that they tend to be loaded with phytochemicals that appear to have anticancer functions, says Kumar

"Pertaining to cancer, we've found 65 or so non-nutrients and nutrients that have action against cancer," she says. "We've seen soy, lycopene, bicarbanol, to name just a few of these, have significant effect against various cancers."

Along with these benefits and its role in weight maintenance, fiber helps prevent the following:

The next time you have a choice about what to buy at the store -- for instance, between fluffy, white bread and a dark, brown loaf of whole wheat -- what do you do?

"Buy the bread that you have to drag out of the store, because the loaf is so heavy and dense," says Kumar. "Everything comes down to the amount of fiber you can get into your food."

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