What is Roughage?

Malcolm Tatum

Roughage is a general term used to identify a carbohydrate contained in many different types of foods. Sometimes referred to simply as dietary fiber, it is understood to be an essential part of any healthy diet plan. Its main function is to add bulk to the diet, which in turn aids in the digestion process and healthy function of the bowel system.

Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of roughage.
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of roughage.

There are many different forms of roughage. Fruits are one common source, with apples, pears, and whole grapes being common examples. Whole grains also contain dietary fiber, and many people eat wheat products like whole grain bread and crackers to add bulk to the diet. Vegetables of just about every description from kale to potatoes also are considered to have bulk.

Kale, a type of roughage.
Kale, a type of roughage.

There are two basic reasons that people should sure that they have enough roughage in their diet. First, many of the foods that contain this bulk can help an individual to feel full more quickly. This can help to minimize the chances of overeating, and help people who are trying to lose weight. Second, because some types of fiber cannot be totally absorbed by the body, the unused portion of the material helps to clean out the digestive tract and bowel. The cleaning action helps to keep these vital areas less susceptible to infection and disease, and aids in overall health.

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Whole grain breads are a source of dietary fiber.
Whole grain breads are a source of dietary fiber.

Roughage comes in two different types, usually referred to as soluble and insoluble fiber. Water soluble fiber includes cellulose and lingnin, while insoluble fiber includes foods such as gum products and pectin. Both types are considered to be essential forms of dietary fiber, working together to help keep the body balanced and healthy. In general, healthcare professionals will encourage patients to include at least come fiber in one to two meals per day, often favoring fresh foods over packaged ones.

Pears are an example of roughage.
Pears are an example of roughage.
Apples are a good source of roughage.
Apples are a good source of roughage.

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Discussion Comments


Carrots do have a lot of roughage, so they would be a good choice for additional fiber. They may not be as fibrous as beans or grains, but at least in raw form they will help clean out your digestive tract.


What about carrots?


roughage is very important for children.


Foods high in dietary fiber are typically very filling foods and help to produce healthy digestion.

According to the 2005 Dietary Health Guidelines for Americans, you should take in about 14 grams of dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed.

Remember to always eat the peel of whatever fruit or vegetable you are consuming to get the optimal fiber provided by the food item. The peel often contains the most dietary fiber/roughage.


Baked beans have a very high roughage content with 10.4 grams of dietary fiber. Lentils have a whopping 15.6 grams of dietary fiber. A cup of split peas has 16.3 grams of dietary fiber, making it one of the best options to intake a large quantity of roughage without having to eat a lot of food.


Roughage (dietary fiber) is cellulose unable to be digested by our intestinal tract. It adds bulk to food and retains water. It is a necessity for proper digestion. It can help to correct large intestine disorders and can prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. It can also help to minimize problems with blood sugar fluctuations and help to lower cholesterol.

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