Eat This Type Of Fiber To Lower Your High Cholesterol

Public health officials and dieticians call it the "fiber gap." Health surveys show that 95% of Americans don't get the recommended amount of fiber per day, according to a 2017 article in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. If you don't eat enough fiber, you might notice a bit of a plumbing problem in your digestive system. That's because fiber adds some bulk to your poop and feeds the good bacteria in your gut.

Not all fiber is the same, and some sources of fiber reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. The two main types of fiber are insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is the kind you might think about that helps with constipation because it absorbs the gunk in your digestive system and then sweeps it away. Soluble fiber absorbs water in your digestive system to form a thick gel to slow down digestion. That's what can control your blood sugar. Soluble fiber also helps to lower your high cholesterol because it also prevents some of the cholesterol from being digested.

The more soluble fiber, the lower the cholesterol

In a 2023 meta-analysis in Advances in Nutrition, researchers pulled the results of 181 research trials involving more than 14,000 people, finding that adding soluble fiber can improve cholesterol levels. Specifically, soluble fiber significantly decreases LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) by 8.28 mg/dL, total cholesterol by 10.82 mg/dL, triglycerides by 5.55 mg/dL, and apolipoprotein B by 44.99 mg/L. How much soluble fiber you add to your diet matters. For every 5 grams of soluble fiber you eat per day, you could lower your total cholesterol by about 6 points and LDL cholesterol by more than 5 points. The researchers found that the cholesterol-lowering effect of soluble fiber was more pronounced in people with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. They suggested 15 grams of soluble fiber a day to lower your cholesterol.

The 2017 article in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine pointed out that people could be missing out on their daily fiber needs because of gluten-free, wheat-free, and grain-free diets. While some people need to follow these diets for health reasons, you need to eat 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume every day. According to the University of California San Francisco, at least one-fourth of your daily fiber should come from soluble fiber sources. Soluble fiber can be found in beans, fruits, vegetables, and seeds.

Adding more soluble fiber is easy

If you need more fiber in your diet, you don't need to turn to a fiber supplement. The National Lipid Association says you can add more soluble fiber to your diet by making more healthy choices. By choosing foods that have between 1 and 3 grams of soluble fiber, you can easily reach the recommended amount of soluble fiber to lower your cholesterol levels. A half cup of whole grains such as oatmeal or barley provides up to 2 grams of soluble fiber. A half cup of black beans or chickpeas adds up to 3 grams.

Let's not forget that a small amount of avocado adds soluble fiber and heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Cooked broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and green beans offer at least another gram of soluble fiber in just a half-cup serving. Don't forget to drink more water as you add more fiber to your diet so your digestive system can do its work in removing excess cholesterol from your body.