There are tons of different fibers in the food world. They’re used a lot in food manufacturing and you can even take them on their own as dietary supplements.
So, what’s so special about soluble corn fiber? Luckily, this mystery is soluble.
Soluble corn fiber (SCF) is a type of fiber that’s made from partially hydrolyzed (aka broken-down) corn starch. SCF is commonly used to add more fiber to foods and thicken products like soups and dressings.
It’s also used in foods to increase sweetness without the need for additional sugar. This is because SCF doesn’t have as much of an impact on your blood sugar levels as regular sugar does. That’s why you’ll find SCF in some low sugar and low calorie foods and bevs like jams, ice creams, and candies.
SCF’s usually found as a food additive, but you can take it on its own as a dietary supplement as well.
According to scientific research, SCF may offer a few health benefits.
Produces a lower blood sugar and insulin response
SCF doesn’t have the same effect on your blood sugar levels as other popular sweeteners, like cane sugar.
A small study found that men who consumed food and beverages made with SCF had significantly lower blood sugar and insulin levels after eating compared to when they consumed products made with maltodextrin. (That’s a sweetener made with vegetable starch.)
What does that mean for you? Choosing products made with SCF rather than foods made with blood sugar-spiking sweeteners may help promote healthy blood sugar maintenance.
May promote digestive health
Because SCF is a type of soluble fiber, it may help improve your gut health. SCF acts as fuel for your friendly gut bacteria.
Eating SCF may help increase the production of short-chain fatty acids. They’re the main source of fuel for colon cells and for a lot of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Another small study found that folks who consumed 8 grams (g) of SCF per day for 14 days had significantly higher numbers of bifidobacteria in their poop. (That’s a good thing because bifidobacteria are considered “friendly” bacteria that help protect against harmful bacteria and disease.)
May be healthy for your bones
SCF may help your bones retain more calcium.
A small study with postmenopausal women found that taking 20 g of SCF daily for 50 days increased their bone calcium retention by 7 percent. This also increased a marker of bone formation called bone-specific alkaline phosphatase.
Another small study with adolescent girls also found that daily supplementation with 10 to 20 g of SCF for 4 weeks led to significant improvements in calcium absorption.
How are these results happening? It’s not totally clear. The theory is that prebiotic fibers (like SCF) can help improve the absorption of minerals, like calcium, in the gut.
Could help reduce cholesterol
Adding SCF to your diet may help lower your cholesterol levels.
A small study in people ages 60 to 80 found that, when combined with the probiotic L. rhamnosus GG, taking 6 g of SCF daily for 3 weeks helped lower total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in peeps with high cholesterol.
Even though these findings are promising, and a research review showed that increasing soluble fiber in your diet in general is beneficial for lowering cholesterol, more research is needed to determine whether SCF is truly effective for lowering cholesterol levels.
Even though SCF may offer some benefits, it doesn’t mean it’s good to eat lots and lots of it. Here’s some possible downsides to be aware of.
Could cause an upset stomach
SCF can lead to digestive issues. If you eat a lot of SCF, symptoms like these are possible:
However, SCF has been well-tolerated in research studies. In general, it’s linked to fewer side effects (even digestive side effects) than other types of fiber like inulin.
Tends to be an additive in lower nutrient foods
Keep in mind that SCF is often added to highly processed foods like snack foods and ice creams.
Even though these products may be advertised as “low calorie” or “low sugar” that doesn’t mean they’re automatically nutritious for your bod.
Many highly processed foods are low in important nutrients like vitamins and minerals. They may also contain less wholesome ingredients like refined grains, fillers, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners.
To keep your body healthy, it’s important to consume mostly whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods like veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, chicken, and fish. Try to limit how many highly refined foods you eat.
If you need to increase your fiber intake, there are a bunch of ways to go about it. (Hint: Most approaches don’t involve taking concentrated fiber supplements like SCF.)
Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian if you need advice on how to bulk up the fiber content of your diet.
SCF is a food additive derived from corn starch that’s found in products like low cal ice cream and candies. It can also be taken as a supplement.
Even though SCF may be linked to some health benefits, it’s usually found in highly processed foods. In general, it’s best for your health to stick to whole, nutrient-dense foods.