Carrots are full of fiber -- both soluble and insoluble. Fiber is highly beneficial for everyday digestion, but it also has specific health benefits and lowers your risk of chronic disease. Snack on baby carrots in the afternoon, add steamed carrots to pasta or shave carrots onto your salad to get more fiber in your diet.
Fiber content in carrots varies slightly if you eat them raw versus cooked. Steaming carrots forces cells to hold on to more water, increasing soluble fiber content. In 3 1/2 ounces of steamed carrots, you'll get about 3.8 grams of total fiber. Of that amount, 1.5 grams is soluble and 2.3 grams is insoluble. Raw carrots have 2.8 grams of total fiber per 3 1/2-ounce serving. About .5 grams is soluble and 2.3 grams is insoluble.
Soluble Fiber Benefits
Soluble and insoluble fiber act differently in your gut, but both types are important. Once soluble fiber reaches your digestive tract, it starts pulling fluid and creates a slow-moving sludge. As it passes through, the thick substance slows digestion, a process that stabilizes both blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber is helpful if you are aiming to lose weight. Because cooked carrots are particularly rich in soluble fiber that slows digestion, food has to sit in your stomach for a longer period of time. You'll feel full for longer and be less likely to snack throughout the day.
Insoluble Fiber Benefits
Insoluble fiber is beneficial for regularity and preventing constipation. While insoluble fiber moves through your gut, it acts like a broom, pushing out waste and speeding up digestion. Since waste and toxins are continuously being removed from your colon, you'll be less likely to suffer from diverticulitis, a painful inflammatory condition that causes waste to get stuck in the intestinal tract. Adding carrots to your daily diet helps regulate your bowel movements, improving overall bowel health.
While fiber plays many roles in digestive health and is beneficial for chronic conditions, too much can wreak havoc on your digestive tract. If you're not currently meeting your fiber recommendation of 14 grams for every 1,000 calories in your diet, you'll need to slowly increase your intake. For example, following a 2,500-calorie diet requires 35 grams of daily fiber, reports the Colorado State University Extension website, but the average American only consumes 14 grams per day. Start slowly by adding one serving of carrots or other high-fiber food to your diet per day. As long as you can tolerate the sudden fiber increase, continue adding more servings until you meet your recommended intake. Drastically increasing your fiber intake, if you're not used to it, can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.