International Survey Results on Dietary Fiber Definition

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If the definition of complex carbohydrates is to include dietary fiber, results of two prior international surveys on fiber should be of major interest (11). One hundred forty-four experts participated in the first survey and 122 responded to "S

the second, representing professionals from 30 countries. The results of the first g survey were reported in Lee and Prosky (9, 12, 13). In these surveys (Table 4), j respondents generally supported the definition of dietary fiber as those polysac-charides and lignin that are not hydrolyzed by the human alimentary enzymes. According to this definition, dietary fiber would include non-soluble polysaccha-

rides, resistant saccharides and lignin. In general, fiber survey respondents also |

supported the idea that the definition of dietary fiber be expanded to include ROs, unavailable polysaccharides, resistant starch and lignin.

Resistant oligosaccharides were defined as oligosaccharides that are not hydrolyzed by the human alimentary enzymes or as oligosaccharides that escape digestion in the human upper GI tract, including the mouth, stomach and small intestine. In the second survey, some 66% of survey respondents supported the

Cho and Prosky

Table 4 Answers to Question: How would you define dietary fiber? (Check only one.)a






a. Remnants of plant components resistant to human alimentary enzymes. These include undigestible polysaccharides, lignin, undigest-ible proteins and lipids, etc.



b. The sum of lignin and polysaccharides that are not hydrolyzed by human alimentary enzymes, i.e., the sum of non-starch polysaccha-rides, resistant starch, and lignin.



c. Polysaccharides that are not hydrolyzed by human alimentary enzymes, i.e., the sum of non-starch polysaccharides.



d. The sum of non-starch polysaccharides plus lignin.



e. Plant cell-wall components.



f. Non-starch polysaccharides only.



g. Other answers.



No answer.

aUp to 2 answers were accepted aUp to 2 answers were accepted inclusion of ROs in the definition of dietary fiber. Respondents cited the following reasons to include ROs in the definition: (1) ROs are difficult to distinguish from the non-hydrolyzable polysaccharides, whether they are part of the total dietary fiber or the soluble dietary fiber fraction, and (2) they have a physiological effect in the large intestine similar to those of other dietary fibers. Those respondents (34%) who felt that ROs should not be included in the dietary fiber gave the following reasons: (1) there are no validated methods for analyzing ROs (e.g., ROs precipitate incompletely in 80% ETOH), (2) ROs are not true polysaccharides, (3) ROs are not part of the plant cell-wall material, (4) there is a lack of knowledge about the physiological effects of high amounts of ROs, and (5) the inclusion of ROs would complicate the definition.

A large percentage of respondents (86%) indicated that lignin should also j be included in the expanded definition of complex carbohydrates. Although lignin t?

is a polyphenol, and not a carbohydrate, it is historically included for several reasons: lignin (1) is resistant to human digestion, (2) has a physiological effect similar to dietary fiber on intestinal transit and fermentation, (3) is closely related |

in function to dietary fiber, and (4) is of cell-wall origin. Those respondents (14%) who opposed including lignin in the definition of dietary fiber gave the following reasons: lignin (1) is not a carbohydrate, (2) does not ferment in the intestine, (3) has no proven health benefits, and (4) there is no suitable analytical methodology for the determination of lignin content.

Complex Carbohydrates

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