Differentiation of Dietary Fiber Sources by Chemical Characterization

  • Michael A. McLaughlin
  • Martha L. Gay
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 270)


The terra “dietary fiber” is generally defined as the components of plant cell walls which are indigestible by humans.1,2 Interest in fiber has risen recently as various physiological effects, such as the lowering of serum cholesterol3 and a decrease in the incidence of colon cancer,4 have become widely reported. From a chemical point of view, dietary fiber consists of the nonstarch polysaccharides (NSP) and lignin, which are not metabolized by human small intestinal enzymes. The NSP are represented by such chemically diverse compounds as hemicellulose, cellulose, pectin, carrageenan, guar gum and agar. Lignin is a highly cross-linked polymer of phenylpropane units derived from coniferyl, sinapyl and coumaryl alcohols. Information about various types of polysaccharides found in plants is used in the present study to differentiate fiber sources by characterizing their polysaccharide components. From this type of chemical characterization we can then “fingerprint” or analyze for chemical differences among the many fiber sources that are claimed to produce different physiological effects.


Dietary Fiber Methylation Analysis Fiber Source Alditol Acetate Fiber Extract 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. McLaughlin
    • 1
  • Martha L. Gay
    • 1
  1. 1.U.S. Food and Drug Administration Division of Food Chemistry and TechnologyS.W.USA

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