Cholesterol Education Month

By: Kim Beavers Email
By: Kim Beavers Email

Cholesterol Education Month is the month of September every year. Cholesterol is important is because it is still a primary risk factor for heart disease.

Recently I have had some friends and relatives come back with high cholesterol and one of my suggestions to them is to increase the fiber in their diet but not just any fiber ... soluble fiber is the one to focus on where cholesterol is concerned.

Fiber is either classified as insoluble (meaning it cannot dissolve in water) and soluble (meaning it can dissolve in water). When dissolved in water, soluble fiber forms a gel-like material which slows digestion and the rate of nutrient absorption in the small intestines. The benefits of soluble fiber include: lowering of blood cholesterol levels, specifically LDL cholesterol by binding cholesterol byproducts and excreting them along with other wastes, and helping to control blood glucose by slowing the absorption of sugar.

Soluble fiber is found in oats, barley, beans and many fruits and vegetables. Here are several examples to get you started.

FRUITS with highest soluble fiber content:

  • Mango (1/2 small) 1.7g
  • Prunes (1/4 cup) 1.5g
  • Figs (dried 1 ½ ) 1.4g
  • Strawberries (1 ¼ cup) 1.1g
  • Grapefruit 2.0g
  • Orange 2.0g
  • Pear 2.0g
  • Apple 1.0g
  • Banana 1.0g
  • Blackberries (1/2 cup) 1.0g
  • Peach 1.0g
  • Nectarine 1.0g

VEGETABLES with the highest soluble fiber content (1/2 cup cooked):

  • Brussels Sprouts 3.0g
  • Sweet Potatoes 1.8g
  • Asparagus 1.7g
  • Turnips 1.7g
  • Peas, green 1.3g
  • Broccoli 1.2g
  • Carrots 1.1g
  • Okra 1.0g

LEGUMES with the highest soluble fiber content (1/2 cup cooked):

  • Black Beans 2.4g
  • Navy Beans 2.2g
  • Kidney Beans 2.0g
  • Pinto Beans 1.4g
  • Lima Beans 1.1g
  • Lentils 1.0g
  • GRAINS with the highest soluble fiber content (1/2 cup cooked):

    • Oatmeal 1.0g
    • Oat Bran 1.0g
    • Wheat Bran 1.0g
    • Barley Pearled 0.8g

    Here are a few more foods to up your soluble fiber:

    • Bob’s Red Mill 13 Bean Soup mix: WOW 13 types of beans -- that is a lot of bean fiber! In fact it contains 15g total fiber and 3.2g soluble fiber. Note: There is a 16 bean soup mix (Kroger brand) with a seasoning packet. To keep sodium low you may wish to only use part of the seasoning packet.
    • Kellogg’s Fiber Plus Antioxidant Cereals: They come in Berry Yogurt Crunch (higher in sugar) and Cinnamon Oat Crunch (less sugar). These cereals contain 10g fiber and 4g soluble fiber. Try these when you tire of oatmeal.
    • Cheerios: Have 1g soluble fiber but do note that NOT all cheerios contain soluble fiber chose plain or multigrain cheerios for the most fiber benefits.
    • Quaker Oat Squares: Have 2g soluble fiber and are great added to trail mix.
    • Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Grain Pasta: This pasta is a great source of fiber (6g) and 0.75g soluble fiber
    • Kroger brand whole grain pasta is a similar product to ronzoni and contains 6g fiber with 0.75g soluble fiber from oat fiber. Note I could not confirm the amount of soluble fiber in the Kroger product so 0.75g is an educated guess based on the product ingredients.

    Finding soluble fiber on the label

    Soluble fiber is rarely on the nutrition facts label, however, you can identify products with soluble fiber by looking for terms such as oats, oat bran, oat flour, whole grain barley, psyllium husk or seed, inulin, flax, maltodextrin and wheat bran.

    How much soluble fiber is needed? There is no set guideline. Research does suggest however that soluble fiber from fruit, vegetable, legume, oats, barley and psyllium totaling 5-10g can help lower LDL cholesterol.

    Some information was obtained from the Supermarket Savvy newsletter (March 2011).

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