One of the most popular and effective soluble fibers for cholesterol control is beta-glucan, which is derived from oats and barley. Cheerios anyone? But oat fiber for lowering cholesterol is not the only choice.
Numerous studies, see references below, have been conducted using grain fibers from barley and oat, namely beta-glucan, showing how well cholesterol is reduced by daily intake of these fibers. The effect of the fiber, since it isn’t digested, is to bind onto the bile acids and help carry them ou tof the body. Bile acids are produced in the liver using cholesterol, so cholesterol is basically used up and shuttled out of the body.
A number of other studies on fibers from fruits and vegetables have been shown to be equally as effective. A recent study showed two apples a day were effective in reducing cholesterol. This study, presented in 2011 by Arjmandi and Sitton at “Experimental Biology”, was on 160 women between the ages of 45 and 65. The two apple a day group lowered their cholesterol on average by 24%, which is HUGE. Pectin, the soluble fiber in apples, sits in greater quantity right under the apple skin, so don’t peel it and throw away the peels.
A number of root vegetables are rich in fiber, particularly sweet potatoes, yams, taro, cassava, and regular potatoes. Recent studies on the cholesterol lowering effects of these vegetables have also proven effective. One, the Chinese yam or tugi, even raised good cholesterol.
Almonds and walnuts, both high fiber nuts, pack a one two punch when it comes to lowering cholesterol because of their content of beneficial oils. These have been the subject of a number of studies and have proven to be highly beneficial not only for cholesterol, but also weight control. All it took was a 1/4 ounce a day to show improvements in health. Yes, even with their high fat/calorie content. Notice, it wasn’t eating a whole can a day, it was a small amount. The way they controlled weight, another way to keep cholesterol down, was to satisfy hunger longer since it takes a lot longer to digest fatty foods. Which is also another way to control blood sugar, a key component to good health, not only for cholesterol, but also diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
Research shows soluble fiber aids digestion, increases satiety, helps control blood sugar and benefits cholesterol. Technically speaking, “dietary fiber is the edible parts of plants or analogous carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion and …
So, while oats, a common American staple, provides cholesterol lowering health benefits due to its fiber, oat fiber is not the only choice for lowering cholesterol. There are a whole host of delicious choices including apples, nuts, and root vegetables. It’s important to keep our diets varied, not only for the health benefits of different nutrients, but because it keeps our palates entertained and interested.
Some oat references:
Othman, RA. Moghadasain, MH. Jones, PJ. Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan. Nutr Rev. 2011. Vol. 69(6):pp. 299-309. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00401.x.
Lia, A. Hallmans, G. Sanderg, AS. Sundberg, B. Aman, P. Andersson, H. Oat beta-glucan increases bile acid excretion and a fiber-rich barley fraction increases cholesterol excretion in ileostomy subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995. Vol. 62(6);pp.1245-1251.
Marlett, J. Hosig, K. Vollendorf, N. Shinnick, F. Haack, V. Story, J. Mechanisms of serum cholesterol reduction by oat bran, Hepatology. 1994. Vol. 20(6);pp. 1450-1457.
Wursch, P. Pi-Sunyer, FX. The Role of Viscous Soluble Fiber in the Metabolic Control of Diabetes: A review with special emphasis on cereals rich in β-glucan. Diabetes Care. 2007. Vol. 20(11);pp. 1774-1789.
Lia, A. Andersson, H. Mekki, N. Juhel, C. Senft, M. Lairon, D. Postprandial lipemia in relation to sterol and fat excretion in ileostomy subjects given oat-bran and wheat test meals. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997. Vol. 66(2);pp. 357-365.
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