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Fiber Can Lower Cholesterol

Updated on October 16, 2016
Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy has written about health and wellness for more than five years. She is the former manager of two large clinics in Austin, Texas.

It's True - Oatmeal can Lower Your Cholesterol!

Oatmeal is a great source of soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol.
Oatmeal is a great source of soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. | Source

Eat High-Fiber Foods to Lower Cholesterol Levels

You probably know fiber is good for you, but you might be surprised at what all it can do for your body. Aside from, um, regularity, the right kind of fiber can lower cholesterol and help you manage several health conditions.

The key, though, is to include the right kind of fiber in your diet. All fiber has value (just keeping our elimination systems working well is very important), but the right kind of fiber does far more than just keep you regular.

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. When you read a label, the two will usually be listed separately to help consumers know what they’re eating. But many people don’t understand the difference between the two, and the terms are indeed confusing.

Insoluble fiber is the one most known for helping food move through your digestive track. It absorbs moisture during its trip through your system, and helps in eliminating solid waste.

Soluble fiber, though, behaves differently and is the key to lowering cholesterol. Here's some information on soluble fiber, to help you get started on a healthier diet:

How Fiber Lowers Cholesterol

Soluble Fiber and Cholesterol

Soluble fiber interacts with the contents of your digestive tracts and helps change its make-up, absorbing water water and becoming ‘fermented’ (from the bacteria in your intestines) and gelatin-like.

This transformation is what allows soluble fiber to help lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber in the digestive tract binds with bile acids while in the small intestine and inhibits their ability to be absorbed by the body, which lowers the cholesterol levels in your blood.

The process described above is the reason oatmeal (among other foods) is touted for its ability to lower cholesterol. Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber.

In addition to helping to manage high cholesterol, soluble fiber helps regular blood sugar by lowering the body’s ‘sugar response’ after meals. As those with diabetes know, your glucose level can rise dramatically right after you eat.

If you eat just 5-10 grams of soluble fiber a day, your body will likely see a positive response through a lowered LDL (bad cholesterol) level.

Foods High in Soluble Fiber

Many foods are good sources of fiber, you just need to know what to look for.

Most foods will have some soluble and some insoluble fiber, so don’t worry too much about narrowing your focus.

You've likely been encouraged all your life to eat many familiar foods listed below - as in, "An apple a day keeps the..." Well - you get the idea!

Here are some good choices if you want to eat more soluble fiber:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Prunes
  • Beans
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Psyllium

Almonds are a source of fiber

Nuts are just one source of insoluble fiber.
Nuts are just one source of insoluble fiber. | Source

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Benefits of Insoluble Fiber

Just because insoluble fiber doesn’t behave the same way as soluble fiber doesn’t mean it is without value.

Insoluble fiber creates all-important bulk and can help address constipation, irregular bowel habits and other digestive issues.

Normalizing your bowel movements can help you feel more energetic and less sluggish.

Interestingly, although it seems contradictory, insoluble fiber can also help address issues with watery or loose stools.

Some have also seen improvement in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

This type of fiber also helps you feel full and can help you control overeating, if you pay attention to that feeling.

But it also is known to help reduce the risk of diabetes, for reasons not yet fully understood.

A healthy and balanced diet should include choices from both types of fibers, as well as from all the major food groups.

Good sources of insoluble fiber include:

  • · Whole Wheat Products
  • · Nuts
  • · Wheat Bran
  • · Vegetables (many are good sources)
  • · Skins of Fruits and Vegetables (such as plums)

Does Fiber Cause Bloating?

A sudden increase in your daily fiber can cause bloating and discomfort, and in general, you may experience this type of feeling even when you are consuming a recommended amount each day.

You can also experience an increase in intestinal gas (as indicated when feeling bloated).

Be sure to stay hydrated and drink the proper amount of water each day, otherwise, you could get constipation from not having enough fluid to help the bulk move through your body.

Fiber is essential for good body maintenance and health; unfortunately, today’s focus on processed foods and drive-through meals has reduced the daily intake of fiber for many people. But with a few modifications, and some information on how you can add more fiber to your diet, you can change your eating habits and enjoy the benefits diet offers for your health and wellbeing.

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  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, MrsBrownsParlour! It's nice to know what foods benefit us just by making simple changes in our diets. I appreciate your comments here.

  • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

    Lurana Brown 3 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

    Informative and interesting! This is the kind of knowledge that helps us consciously make healthier food choices.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, RusticLiving! I'm so glad we'll be able to link to each other's hubs - thanks for your compliments, and I feel your hub on fiber is a perfect companion to this one!

  • Rusticliving profile image

    Elizabeth Rayen 4 years ago from California

    This is such a great hub and compliments my hub on How to Get More Fiber in Your Diet. I will absolutely add your link to my hub so readers will have this wonderful piece of information! Voted up and useful, and definitely shared!♥ ---Lisa

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Rajan! The distinction between those two types of fiber puzzled me for years. It was I interesting to learn the role each plays. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    An excellent hub Marcy. It's very important to know the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber and you have explained it very well.

    Voted up and useful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks for reading and commenting, drbj - and your grocery list sounds yummy!

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

    This is excellent information, Marcy, to remind us of the importance of fiber in our diets - especially as it relates to lowering cholesterol. I'm off to the market later to stock up on apples, almonds, carrots and mini-wheats - thanks to your reminders.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks for reading and commenting, Summerberrie - I'm glad you found the hub helpful!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Nare - I hope this information is helpful for your family!

  • profile image

    summerberrie 4 years ago

    Great informative informative hub on fiber. Thanks for the useful list of foods! Voted up and useful.

  • Nare Anthony profile image

    Nare Gevorgyan 4 years ago

    Very interesting. My mom is really concerned about cholesterol, so i gotta tell them about this. I love bananas and apple, so one more reason to eat a lot of them :)

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    @TahoeDoc - thanks for your kind comments! I'm glad you found the hub accurate from a professional standpoint. It's one of those topics that can be tricky to explain in an easy way!

    @Alliemacb - that's a great point! Scotland is known for its steel cut oats, isn't it? We don't cook with barley very much in the U.S., and I'm afraid we're missing out on a healthy source of nutrition and fiber, as well as some yummy recipes. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    @Kamalesh - I'm so glad you found the hub helpful! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  • Kamalesh050 profile image

    Kamalesh050 4 years ago from Sahaganj, Dist. Hooghly, West Bengal, India

    Great hub, very interesting and educative - Thanks a lot for sharing.

    Voted Up & Awesome. Best Wishes, Kamalesh

  • alliemacb profile image

    alliemacb 4 years ago from Scotland

    Great hub. It's interesting to see the staples of a traditional Scottish diet - oatmeal and barley - in there. Maybe we should return to eating more of these types of food. Might help some of this country's health issues. Voted up!

  • TahoeDoc profile image

    TahoeDoc 4 years ago from Lake Tahoe, California

    Fantastic Marcy. Great job explaining soluble and insoluble fiber and giving examples of foods providing soluble fiber. You are a fantastic writer and, no doubt, many people will find this one of the clearest explanations on the topic and will be helped for having this information.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    I think many latent health issues would be improved just by paying attention to fiber intake, Aviannovice. Many thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    I'm hooked on mini-wheats, too, Cre8tor! I feel very smug when I eat them - I can tell myself they're healthy while I secretly love the way they taste! Thanks for commenting here!

  • aviannovice profile image

    Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

    This is a great plug for fiber! It is a necessary part of our daily regimen.

  • Cre8tor profile image

    Daniel Robbins 4 years ago from Ohio

    Insoluble fiber! Mini-Wheats! I love them. I love lots of high fiber foods not necessarily because they're high fiber but just because I love them. I guess that works out well for me, eh? haha

    Great, informative hub Marcy! Voted up!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    @Livingsta - many thanks for reading the hub and for your kind comments; so glad you like the information here!

    @nanderson500 - I'm glad you found the hub helpful! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    @BraveWarrior - The two types of fiber have confused me, too; it's a big eye-opener to know what each does. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Very informative, Marcy. I know fiber is necessary for healthy bodily functions, although I was unaware of the difference between the two types. Now I know! Thank you so much.

  • nanderson500 profile image

    nanderson500 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

    Good article, I definitely know much more about fibers now!

  • livingsta profile image

    livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

    Thank you for sharing the info with us Marcy. Very useful hub !

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, alocsin - it's great to hear a personal testimony about the effectiveness of fiber in lowering cholesterol! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, HealthyLife - you are adding way more than just fiber when you eat almonds. They're one of the almost-magic foods that can do wonders for us! Many thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, SingingNurse - thanks for reading and sharing! I have seen the tedious scientific explanations, too, and they can be difficult to understand.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Melovy - thanks for reading and commenting - I'm so glad you found the hub helpful!

  • alocsin profile image

    alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

    I've actually used this technique to lower my cholesterol. My favorite is almonds -- it's something I enjoy just because it's tasty. Voting this Up and Useful.

  • healthylife2 profile image

    Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

    Great hub! I think about my fiber intake every day and was surprised how little is in a green smoothie. An entire cup of many green vegetables has one gram. I add beans and almonds to increase my fiber.

  • thesingernurse profile image

    thesingernurse 4 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

    Very useful information about soluble and insoluble fiber. This would help all the readers understand more about the function (or behavior) of these fiber without having to bore them with technical and scientific terms. Well explained and written. :)

    Voting up and sharing with my hub friends, colleagues, and patients. :)

  • Melovy profile image

    Yvonne Spence 4 years ago from UK

    My husband has slightly raised cholesterol so I am always on the lookout for ways to reduce that. I knew oats are very good but I didn't realise that fibre in general is good. These are all foods that are easy to eat, and most we already eat daily, just need to up the quantity a little perhaps.

    A very useful hub. Voted up.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Many thanks for reading and sharing, Unknown Spy! So glad you like the hub, and that you found useful information here!

  • unknown spy profile image

    IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

    Wow! I always learn a lot everyday. Thank you Marcy. shared.

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