Fiber and cholesterol

The American Heart Association Eating Plan suggests that you eat foods that are high in soluble and insoluble fiber. Foods that are high in soluble fiber, including oat bran, oatmeal, beans, peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries, and apple pulp, have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol. It is recommended that people eat 20 to 35 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber each day.

The greatest cholesterol-lowering effect of soluble fiber occurs in people who have high cholesterol levels. One study found that dietary fiber intake from 25 to 30 grams lowered the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) by 12% in U.S. men and women.1

Insoluble fiber doesn't seem to affect blood cholesterol but it promotes healthy bowel movement. Foods that are high in insoluble fiber include whole wheat breads, wheat cereals, wheat bran, cabbage, beets, carrots, brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower, and apple skin. Fiber from such foods is better for the bowel than fiber supplements, such as psyllium seed products.

Psyllium (a common ingredient in nonprescription fiber supplements and laxatives) has been used to boost the effectiveness of some lipid-lowering drugs while reducing the stomach upset commonly caused by those drugs.2 But products containing psyllium are not recommended to replace foods as a source of fiber.

Citations

  1. Bazzano LA, et al. (2003). Dietary fiber intake and reduced risk of coronary heart disease in U.S. men and women. Archives of Internal Medicine, 163(16): 1897–1904.
  2. Moreyra AE, et al. (2005). Effect of combining psyllium fiber with simvastatin in lowering cholesterol. Archives of Internal Medicine, 165(10): 1161–1166.

Last Updated: July 11, 2008

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