Coffee May Pack Dietary Fiber

Coffee May Be Higher in Soluble Fiber Than Wine or Orange Juice, Experts Say

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on February 23, 2007

Feb. 23, 2007 -- Your coffee may come with a little something extra -- and not just cream and sugar.

Some of the dietary fiber in coffee beans may make it into your mug, Spanish researchers report.

They say coffee has more soluble dietary fiber (the type of fiber that dissolves in water and helps prevent cholesterol from being absorbed by the intestines) than wine or orange juice.

Fulgencio Saura-Calixto, PhD, and colleagues at the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid brewed instant coffee, espresso, and filtered coffee.

They measured how much soluble dietary fiber was in each drink.

Instant coffee contained the most -- about 1.8 grams of soluble dietary fiber per cup. Espresso had 1.5 grams of soluble dietary fiber per cup, and filtered coffee contained 1.1 grams, the study shows.

The report is scheduled for publication in the March 21 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Fiber Recommendations

You would have to drink a lot of coffee -- about 17 cups of instant -- to reach the recommended daily intake of 31 grams of dietary fiber per day, based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

That fiber recommendation comes from dietary guidelines published in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In their study, the Spanish scientists simply measured dietary fiber in coffee. They didn't study coffee's health effects; and they don't make any recommendations about drinking coffee.

Past studies on coffee and health have had mixed results, note Saura-Calixto and colleagues.

Fiber Sources

Looking for other sources of dietary fiber? Beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are leading sources.

Those foods also contain insoluble fiber, which doesn't dissolve in water, rather than the soluble dietary fiber found in coffee.

Insoluble fiber (roughage) may help keep bowel movements regular and reduce the risk of colon problems. It also makes you feel full.

Let's say you start your day with half a cup of 100% bran cereal (8.8 grams of dietary fiber) and a cup of instant coffee (1.8 grams of dietary fiber).

Then you lunch on chili containing half a cup of cooked Navy beans (9.5 grams of dietary fiber). In the afternoon, you snack on an ounce of almonds (3.3 grams of dietary fiber) and a small, raw pear (4.3 grams of dietary fiber).

For dinner, you have chicken (sorry, no fiber there) and half a medium-sized baked sweet potato (4.8 grams of dietary fiber).

Add it all up, and you've reached 32 grams of dietary fiber. That's a smidgen more than the recommended amount.

That menu is just an example to give you an idea of foods' fiber content. Your doctor or a nutritionist have more pointers for creating a healthy diet with plenty of fiber.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Diaz-Rubio, M. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, March 21, 2007. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005." WebMD Feature: "Why You Need More Fiber." News release, American Chemical Society.

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