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:
VEGETABLES with the highest soluble fiber content (1/2 cup cooked):
LEGUMES with the highest soluble fiber content (1/2 cup cooked):
GRAINS with the highest soluble fiber content (1/2 cup cooked):
Here are a few more foods to up your soluble fiber:
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).