Fiber, like many other nutrients, is essential in keeping our body fit and preventing unwanted health conditions or illnesses. This indigestible plant-based carbohydrate may either be soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, forms a gel-like substance in our gut that slows digestion to help prevent or regulate blood glucose to reduce hunger and prevent the risk of heart disease. On the other hand, insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water, goes through our digestive system intact and helps in speeding up the passage of food to regulate bowel movement and prevent constipation.
Both of these types of fibers can be found in many types of food like oats, nuts, beans, apples, leafy greens, and many more kinds of fruits, nuts, and vegetables. But if you’re in a rush and have no time and resources to plan your meals, or if you simply want a snack packaged with all the fiber you need, then including high-fiber nutrition bars in your diet could be a convenient and delicious alternative. They can also come in different styles and flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and assorted nut varieties. Here are some of the types of fiber bars that you can choose and watch out for based on their main source of fiber:
Tapioca Fiber Bars (Isomolto-oligosaccharides or IMO)
Considered the most commonly used fiber found in nutrition bars, Tapioca fiber is a soluble prebiotic fiber made from cassava root extracted from starch. When added to nutrition bars, it is usually processed and labeled as Isomolto-oligosaccharides or IMO which tastes sweet but contains fewer net calories than natural brown sugar. Compared to other fiber bars, it is inferior in terms of nutritional benefits with only minor amounts of fiber, fat, and protein.
Since it is starch, it is almost made up entirely of carbohydrates, providing you energy but not many essential nutrients. It has become a holy grail in various nutrition bars because it is sweet, has low calories than sugar, and is gluten-free. Fiber bars that use tapioca or IMO usually mix it with other healthier proteins and fibers like soy protein and a variety of fruits, seeds, or nuts to make it “healthier”.
Inulin (Chicory Root) Fiber Bars
Unlike IMOs, inulin from chicory root contains much more fiber content wherein studies have shown that approximately 90-92 grams of soluble fiber content are found per 100 grams making inulin 90% made of fiber. This type of fiber is extracted from a plant with bright blue or purple flowers that belong to a species of dandelion. On the packaging of fiber bars, inulin or chicory root fiber can be listed as chicory root extract, oligofructose, or oligosaccharide (not to be confused with IMOs). The next time you look for fiber bars, you can check the product’s ingredients and see what kind of fibers they included.
Soluble corn fiber may be the most well-tolerated type of fiber among the three on this list, so if you’re a little worried about allergens and gastrointestinal effects, you may want to give corn fiber bars a shot. It’s low on sugar and is 90% made of fiber-like inulin, thus, making it ideal for lowering the sugar content that the fiber bar already has. Since nutrition bars rich in corn fiber are tolerated by most people, it is safe to eat them in large doses from up to 65 grams to 40 grams in a single day.
Eating corn fiber bars contains a lot of nutritional benefits including the increase in good gut bacteria that can keep a healthy bowel movement, regulate blood glucose levels, and increase feelings of fullness that can aid in weight loss. Moreover, corn fiber bars are also found to stay fresh longer than other bars as well as perform better when baked compared to other fibers and sweeteners.