Dietary Fiber Supplements Reduce Cholesterol

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An article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supports the health benefits of dietary fiber with reference to its report of a study that studied the effect of psyllium on blood cholesterol levels. Psyllium is a soluble fiber that is found in some cereals and in certain dietary fiber supplements.

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In this study, men and women with high blood cholesterol levels consumed either psyllium or an insoluble fiber alternative twice daily while following a low-cholesterol diet. At the end of the 26-week study, the people who consumed the psyllium supplement lowered their cholesterol levels by about 5% – a significant improvement when compared with those who consumed the alternative fiber supplement.

This is encouraging news for people with higher-than-normal cholesterol levels. The authors of the study point out that while a soluble fiber supplement cannot replace a low-cholesterol diet, it does offer an additional dietary tool for people who struggle to keep their cholesterol levels in check.

A low-cholesterol diet plus psyllium has the potential to reduce heart disease risk by 10 to 15% more than diet alone – every 1% reduction in total blood cholesterol results in a 2 to 3% reduction in the risk of heart disease for those who have high cholesterol levels.

Despite numerous reports of the cholesterol-lowering effect of soluble fiber, the average American currently eats a mere 3 to 4 grams of soluble fiber a day – about half the amount recommended by the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Commercial fiber supplements are an easy way for some people to boost their fiber intake, but it is not necessary to rely totally on such supplements to get the health benefits of fiber. Oats, some fruits and vegetables, and legumes are good sources of soluble fiber.

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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