A recent study found that a diet including fiber from the cactus prickly pear may improve weight loss.
Adding fiber, or bulk, in the diet is thought to help keep the bowels regular and possibly treat or prevent certain diseases. A high fiber diet usually contains 20-35 grams of fiber per day. Dietary fiber is found in grains, fruits, and vegetables. According to the American Dietetic Association, the average American eats only about 12-17 grams of fiber per day, far less than the recommend daily intake of 20-35 grams.
In the new study, 125 obese adults were counseled on nutrition, exercise and a lower calorie diet. Participants were given either 3 grams daily of a cactus fiber powder or a placebo for 12 weeks. Previous studies suggested that the cactus fiber may reduce fat absorption in the stomach.
In the group that consumed the cactus fiber powder, significantly more individuals lost at least 5 percent of their body weight than the individuals in the placebo group. Furthermore, compared to the placebo group, the cactus fiber powder group had significantly larger reductions in body fat and waist circumference. A lack of adverse effects from the cactus fiber powder was observed.
For more information about a high fiber diet, please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness Database.