It has been shown that soluble fiber can help reduce your cholesterol and should be included in any cholesterol reducing diet. Soluble fiber binds to LDL cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol,” in your small intestine and prevents it from entering your blood (which works to lower your bad cholesterol levels).
While many foods – primarily fruits and vegetables – contain high levels of fiber, not all contain high levels of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber can be dissolved in water and creates a gel-like consistency in the digestive track. Insoluble fiber, however, cannot be dissolved in water and passes through the digestive track relatively unchanged.
How Much Soluble Fiber?
In one study, it was shown that consuming 10 to 25 grams of soluble fiber daily can lower cholesterol by 18%. It appears that soluble fiber only lowers your “bad cholesterol” and does not affect your “good cholesterol” or triglycerides. However, it is effective in maintaining a healthy colon.
Generally, if you consume the recommended amounts of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes as recommended by the Food Pyramid, you will obtain the recommended amount of soluble fiber daily.
Food Sources of Soluble Fiber
Some foods with particularly high levels of soluble fiber include:
- Peas, including chickpeas
- Citrus fruits – lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruits
Adding these foods to your diet will not only help you lower your cholesterol, but will also provide you with healthy doses of vitamins, minerals, and in some vegetables and fruits – phytosterols (which also play an important role in lowering cholesterol).
Look at the Food Pyramid and increase your intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to meet the recommended soluble fiber intake.