Sources Of Soluble Fiber For Lowering Your Cholesterol

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Including foods high in soluble fiber can play an important role in improving your heart health. There are several different forms of soluble fiber found in foods, including:

  • beta glucan
  • psyllium
  • gums
  • pectin
  • certain hemicelluloses

When ingested, these fibers turn into a gel-like consistency in the digestive tract. Although soluble fiber has a good reputation in maintaining your digestive health – it can also help lower your cholesterol levels.

It does this by binding to bile acids in your small intestine, causing them to be excreted from the body through your feces. Since cholesterol is needed to make bile acids to aid in the digestion of fats, additional cholesterol may be sequestered from the blood – thus lowering your cholesterol levels.

Consuming soluble fiber mainly affects your LDL cholesterol. In fact, studies have shown that up to 25 grams of soluble fiber daily can lower your LDL by up to 18%. Because of the cholesterol-lowering ability possessed by soluble fiber, the American Heart Association recommends that you should include up to 25 grams of soluble fiber in your diet daily.

Although there are supplements containing soluble fiber available to purchase, there are also plenty of foods that contain decent amounts of soluble fiber. Not only do these foods supply your diet with soluble fiber, they can also provide many other heart-healthy nutrients to your meal or snack.

So, if you are wanting to increase the amount of soluble fiber in your cholesterol-lowering diet, try adding these healthy foods to your grocery list.

Fruits

All types of fruit – including berries, bananas, and citrus fruit - contain varying amounts of soluble fiber. Types of soluble fiber seen in fruits include pectin and certain hemicelluloses.

So whether you are grabbing one as a snack or blending it into a smoothie – including fruit is one way to get your soluble fiber.

  • Citrus fruits, including - oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, limes and lemons – contain soluble fiber. On average, half of a medium grapefruit contains about 1 gram of soluble fiber, whereas one small orange can contain about 1.8 grams of soluble fiber.
  • Other types of fruit, such as apples, pears and plums are high in pectin. To get the full fiber benefit offered by these fruits – keep the peel. The peel can contain more soluble fiber that the rest of the fruit. One small apple contains about 1 gram of soluble fiber.
  • Roughly one cup of berries – including blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries – contain anywhere between 0.3 and 1.1 grams of soluble fiber.

Vegetables and Mushrooms

All veggies also chock-full of fiber. Not only do they contain soluble fiber – such as certain hemicelluloses, they also are high in insoluble fiber. The amount of soluble fiber found in veggies ranges widely.

Whereas one-half cup of raw cucumbers may contain about 0.1 grams of soluble fiber, the same amount of broccoli or turnips may contain up to 1.7 grams of soluble fiber. Even still, vegetables are high in many types of nutrients while being low in fat and calories, so feel free to pile them on your plate. However, you should be careful not to add fattening dips, spreads, or dressings to your veggies, since this can negate the nutritional benefits of these foods.

Mushrooms can also serve as a source of soluble fiber – and are higher in beta glucan. One cup of uncooked mushrooms may contain about 0.1 grams of soluble fiber. However, this can vary according to the type of mushroom.

Nuts and Seeds

Not only are nuts high in omega-3 fats, protein, and minerals, they also contain varying amounts of soluble fiber. Studies have shown that a handful of nuts – including walnuts, almonds, pistachios, or pecans - can modestly improve your lipid profile. Two whole walnuts contain 0.1 g of soluble fiber, whereas 10 large peanuts can contain up to 0.6 grams.

Seeds – and their husks – contain soluble fiber as well. Whereas a tablespoon of sunflower or sesame seeds contains about 0.1 gram of soluble fiber, the same amount of flaxseeds contains up to 1.1 grams of soluble fiber.

So, make sure to include these healthy foods in your cholesterol-lowering meal plans. Nuts and seeds can be consumed by themselves, or sprinkled on top of your favorite high-fiber salad or healthy meal.

Whole Grains

Some whole grains are chock-full of soluble fiber – including types such as beta glucan and psyllium. If you are looking for whole grains to include in your low-fat diet, make sure to include these whole grains to maximize your soluble fiber intake.

  • Oatmeal
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Barley
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa
  • Whole grain rice

Whole grains contain varying amounts of soluble fiber per serving. For example, one-half cup of cooked barley may contain roughly 0.8 grams of soluble fiber whereas three-fourths cup of oat bran can contain up to 2.2 grams of soluble fiber per serving.

Legumes

Legumes are another surprising source of soluble fiber. This food group includes:

  • Chickpeas
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Lentils

One-half cup of your favorite legume may contain anywhere between 0.5 to 2.4 grams of soluble fiber. Legumes are very versatile and can be added to almost any dish – so feel free to add other high fiber foods to your legumes to maximize your soluble fiber intake for the day.

Sources:

Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (PDF), July 2004, The National Institutes of Health: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Rolfes SR, Whitney E. Understanding Nutrition, 13th ed 2013.

Fiber content of foods in common portions. Harvard University Health Services. Website: http://huhs.harvard.edu/assets/File/OurServices/Service_Nutrition_Fiber.pdf. Accessed December 10, 2015.

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