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What is Cellulose?

Cellulose is an insoluble fiber that makes up the structure of plant cell walls.

What is cellulose made of? 

Cellulose is the water insoluble plant material that makes up the structure of plant cell walls. Human digestive systems do not contain the enzymes necessary to break down cellulose, therefore it acts as an insoluble fiber in our guts. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and promotes movement through the digestive tract. In other words, it helps keep you regular.

Is cellulose a carbohydrate? 

Cellulose is a type of indigestible carbohydrate, also known as fiber. Examples of cellulose rich foods include whole grains, bran, legumes, peas, nuts, root vegetables, cabbage, seeds, and apples. 

What is microcrystalline cellulose? 

Microcrystalline cellulose is a purified, powdered cellulose derived from wood pulp. It is sometimes used as a thickening or texturing agent in foods to prevent caking. Examples of food that may contain this form of cellulose include breads, cake mixes, sauces, dips, chicken nuggets, and fruit juice mixes. Microcrystalline cellulose is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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