What is Roughage?

You’ve probably heard of the term before, and wondered what is roughage?

It isn’t a common term and can sound confusing. And the term doesn’t sound too good to start with.

However, it isn’t complicated. And, in fact, roughage is good for you.

In this article, we look closer into roughage. What it is, what it does, and why it’s important.


What is Roughage?

In the simplest of terms, roughage is basically dietary fiber.

Often referred to as bulk, the term is often used when talking about certain types of carbohydrates that’s contained in food.

Roughage is generally found in plant food. They are the parts of plants that our body isn’t able to digest or absorb. Proteins, fats or carbohydrates are all absorbed by the body for nutrients.

Fiber meanwhile, isn’t. It just passes through the body and travels the entire route.

After we eat it, it goes down our esophagus to our stomach, small intestine and our colon. Then out our body.

However, just because it isn’t absorbed for nutrients doesn’t mean it isn’t important. In fact the opposite is true.

Benefits of Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet. It assists in weight loss and management. Just as importantly, it helps reduce blood cholesterol and assists with blood sugar control.

Fiber has also been linked to reducing the risk of certain types of cancers including colon and breast cancer.

Unfortunately, despite its many benefits, majority of Americans don’t get enough of it. On average, we consume around 15 grams of roughage a day. This is way short of the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day from food. This figure excludes fiber obtained from supplements.


Types of Dietary Fiber

When it comes to roughage, there are two main kinds:

Soluble fiber

As its name implies, this type of fiber dissolves in water. When it does so, it turns into a gel-like form. Soluble fiber slows down digestion. As such, it allows a slow release of the glucose (sugar) absorbed from food. This helps control blood sugar from spiking.

Additionally, soluble fiber assists in lowering blood cholesterol.

It is often found in beans, peas, psyllium, oats, barley and citrus fruits.

Insoluble fiber

This type of fiber does not dissolve in water. Insoluble fiber adds bulk by absorbing water as it moves through our digestive system. In doing so it helps us have a more regular bowel movement. This helps keep our colon and bowel healthy by removing toxic waste from these organs faster.

Having sufficient amount of insoluble fiber in your diet helps food move faster through your system. This prevents things from getting clogged up, or leave you with constipation.

Good sources of insoluble fiber include potatoes, cauliflowers and green beans.


List of Roughage Foods

Here’s a list of foods that are high in dietary fiber.

Chart of Foods High in Insoluble Fiber

Food Serving Insoluble Fiber
Wheat Bran 1/2 cup 11 g
Fiber One Cereal 1/2 cup 11 g
All Bran Cereal 1/3 cup 7 g
Shredded Wheat 1 cup 4.5 g
Barley, cooked 1/2 cup 3 g
Whole grain bread 1 slice 3 g
Popcorn 3 cups 2.3 g
Flaxseed 1 tablespoon 2.2 g
Oatmeal 1 cup 2 g
Whole wheat bread 1 slice 1.6 g
Lentils, cooked 1/2 cup 7 g
Pinto beans, cooked 1/2 cup 5.5 g
Chickpeas, cooked 1/2 cup 4.9 g
Black beans, cooked 1/2 cup 3.7 g
Spinach, cooked 100 g 3.5 g
Green peas, cooked 2/3 cup 3.3 g
Okra, cooked 1/2 cup 3 g
Soybeans, cooked 1/2 cup 2.8 g
Sweet potatoes 1/2 cup 2.4 g
Zucchini, cooked 1/2 cup 1.4 g
Apple medium 4.2 g
Raspberries 1/2 cup 3.8 g
Kiwi large 2.4 g
Mango medium 2 g
Banana 7 inches 2 g
Pear small 1.8 g


Chart of Foods High in Soluble Fiber

Food Serving Soluble Fiber
Psyllium husk 10 g 7 g
Oat bran 3/4 cup 2.2 g
Oatmeal 1/3 cup 1.4 g
Brown rice, cooked 1/2 cup 1/3 g
Flaxseed 10 g 1.2 g
Artichoke Medium 4.7 g
Lima beans, cooked 1/2 cup 3.5 g
Kidney beans, cooked 1/2 cup 2.9 g
Brussels sprouts 1/2 cup 2 g
Asparagus 1/2 cup 1.7 g
Carrots 1/2 cup 1 g
Blackberries 1/2 cup 3 g
Mango small 3 g
Avocado 1/2 fruit 2 g
Orange medium 1.8 g
Pear medium 1.3 g
Grapefruit medium 1 g


Since most of us don’t get enough fiber in our diets on a daily basis, try incorporating some of the foods above to help improve your dietary fiber intake. Don’t forget to increase your water intake as well.


Closing Thoughts

Just as importantly, don’t overdo things.

While a lack of fiber isn’t good, too much of a good thing can also be bad. Excess fiber intake can result in dehydration, bowel obstruction and diarrhea.

So do increase your intake slowly and within the recommended levels.


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