How Does Soluble Fiber Lower Blood Cholesterol Levels?

While there are lots of foods that can trigger your cholesterol to rise, there are also plenty options of healthy foods you can eat to control and decrease the level of your LDL (bad cholesterol). One of the most common recommendations is foods high in fiber (especially soluble fiber). These healthy veggies are not only great to lower LDL but also effective to improve your entire health.

What are soluble fibers?

As the name suggests, this kind of fiber will dissolve in the water. This is the key of difference between soluble and insoluble fiber which also can be the key in determining the functions of each type in the body.

All kinds of fibers don’t totally dissolve in the water – including for soluble type. Soluble can dissolve in the water, but actually it only dissolves partially in the water.

It is one of effective options to delay the process of emptying of your gastric. As a result, you can feel full longer and this can be great for your weight control!

This delayed emptying is also great for your blood sugar level because it can help decrease your risk of getting a sudden increase in blood sugar after eating. This means that it may also help control blood sugar either for people with or without diabetes.

What are foods high in soluble fibers? There are lots of choices to explore. These include barley, citrus fruits, beans, carrots, peas, oats (including oat cereal, oat bran, and oatmeal), apples, pears, oat bran, nuts, dried peas, blueberries, celery, apples, strawberries, and psyllium.

How about with insoluble?

Another major type of fiber is insoluble fiber. While soluble type is crucial to lower and control your LDL but this doesn’t mean you can skip your insoluble fiber intake.

Both types of fiber are very important for your overall health. While soluble fiber is excellent to help lower LDL, insoluble fiber can help improve the health of your digestive system (particularly for your colon).

Even insoluble fibers are also familiar called as gut-healthy fiber. The reason is due to the unique characteristic of insoluble type that can provide a laxative effect and doesn’t dissolve in the water are very helpful to treat and prevent constipation.

Since it does not dissolve in the water, it can help speed up the passage of anything you eat through your gut (including for waste). In other words, it can be very helpful to improve the movement of material /foods /waste through your digestive system.

In general, most vegetables and whole grains are rich in insoluble fibers.

Other choices include; grapes, some fruits, dark leafy veggies, root veggies skin, raisins, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, beans, wheat brain, some nuts, whole-wheat flour, potatoes, corn bran, some seeds, brown rice (it is also a kind of complex carbohydrate), broccoli, onions, cucumbers, barley, bulgur, cabbage, couscous, and zucchini. You can see that some foods can contain both soluble and insoluble fibers.

Can soluble fiber help lower your cholesterol effectively?

Yap … there are many health advantages you can get from soluble fiber. One of these benefits is helpful to improve the overall health of your heart.

As well we know that having healthy level of cholesterol is very crucial to your cardiovascular system and heart. In other words, if you can keep your LDL off, this can be great for your heart.

image_illustration12Excessive cholesterol in the blood can put you at high risk of getting atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can be potential to cause a clogged artery. When your artery is narrowed by cholesterol, the blood that flow inside your artery cannot work as well as it should.

As a result, the distribution of essential nutrients and oxygen carried by the blood to tissues /cells of the body doesn’t run optimally. And if this left untreated, there will be lots of complications that may occur such as heart disease. The narrowing and hardening artery can be fatal when a clogged artery occurs. This can cause a heart attack or stroke, depending in where a clogged artery occurs.

According to an article published in the official site of Harvard School of Publication Health, coronary heart disease is the most common kind of heart disease associated with excessive cholesterol in the bloodstream. It is characterized by a buildup of plague from fatty deposits and cholesterols that attach on the artery’s wall.

Coronary arteries are arteries that feed your heart. Chest pain is usually a sign of when narrowing coronary artery occurs. When there is a clogged coronary artery, this can lead to a heart attack.

Dietary fiber can help lower the risk of coronary heart disease. According to a Harvard research that involved about 40,000 participants, those who took a dietary fiber in their lifestyle was linked to about 40 % lower risk of this disease than others who took a low fiber intake.

This suggests that dietary fiber is great to lower LDL and improve the health of your heart. In addition, some studies also found that getting about 10-25 grams of soluble fiber can effectively decrease cholesterol by about 18 percent.

How is soluble fiber in the diet thought to help lower blood cholesterol levels?

Though many studies have confirmed the effectiveness of soluble fiber in helping to reduce LDL, but the way of how it works is still not completely understood.

Nevertheless, many experts believe that it can act a sponge for the absorption of your dietary cholesterol which then eventually will help reduce the amount of dietary cholesterol taken up into the system.

Unfortunately this explanation doesn’t completely answer the question because this theory only works when you get diet high in soluble fiber along with diet high /moderately high in saturated fats and cholesterol. As well we know, your dietary saturated fats have much more contribution in increasing your LDL than foods high in cholesterol that you eat.

If there are lots of saturated fats and cholesterol that you eat from your diet, soluble fiber can help control it because it can interfere with the absorption of your dietary cholesterol – as noted before.

But in fact, even if your diet was very low in saturated fats and cholesterol which means there is already much less amounts of cholesterol absorption, soluble fiber can still help provide reduction in your cholesterol levels.

This suggests that the role of soluble fiber is not only about a sponge for the dietary cholesterol absorption – but there is another unknown reason and experts still cannot explain it clearly.

Another secret of health benefit from fiber for your cholesterol levels

If you get used with diet poor in fiber before, increasing your fiber intake can be powerful to suppress your appetite. This is not only helpful to control your weight, but also make you get less appetite of eating unhealthy foods.

We all agree that getting plenty of fiber from the diet can help make you feel full longer. This means, there will be less room for unhealthy foods such foods high in cholesterol and saturated fats.

In fact raised LDL is one of many effects from obesity – visit this section for more detailed information about this topic. So if you can have healthy weight, you remove one of risk factors of high cholesterol and improve your chance of getting healthy levels of LDL and HDL.

How much you need it?

So, you now know that getting plenty of fiber is very important – but how much? While it can help improve the health of your heart and digestive system, getting it too much may be counterproductive.

If you eat fiber too much, you may experience diarrhea (particularly true when you get used with diet poor in fiber and then you increase it drastically at short time). The amount of fiber you should consume is dependent on your age and gender.

According to the American Dietary Guidelines released in 2005, young men and those younger than 50 – the recommended ideal fiber intake should be about 30 to 38 grams per day. For women under 50, they should get about 25 grams of fiber per day. And make sure most of your fiber intake is soluble!

Healthy dietary fiber – how to start it?

Dietary fiber is often involved in many kinds of healthy diets such as in TLC diet (a special diet to lower LDL) and in Mediterranean diet. But again,  if you still not get used with diet high in fiber, don’t jump directly to increase it  drastically.

Getting too many fibers from your diet when your digestive system is not ready to respond it may cause certain digestive problems, particularly such as diarrhea – as noted before.

Here are some helpful tips: