Are you eating enough fiber to lower cholesterol?

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • Eating a diet high in fiber supports a lower cholesterol/LDL cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, promotes digestive health, and has the potential to decrease risk of colorectal cancer (studies are showing mixed results so far).

     

    For your heart health success, let's take a moment and evaluate the fiber content of your food choices.

     

    To determine your average daily fiber intake grab a piece of paper and write down what you typically have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacks in between. 

     

    Let's use the following day as an example:

     

    Breakfast:

    2 cups of Cheerios with skim milk

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    6 oz. OJ

     

    Morning Snack:

    6 oz. Yogurt

     

    Lunch:

    Grilled cheese sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread

    1 cup tomato soup

     

    Afternoon Snack:

    ¼ cup Walnuts and Dried Fruit

     

    Evening Meal:

    3 oz. Grilled Chicken

    ½ cup sweet potato

    ½ cup broccoli and cauliflower

     

    Now, you'll have to be in your kitchen, so you can look at the food label of different foods to add up your fiber intake.  For example, Cheerios provides 3 grams of fiber per cup making the fiber intake at breakfast 6 grams (2 cups x 3 grams) since OJ and skim milk provide 0 grams of fiber.  Do this for all your foods and add up the total. 

     

    In this example, total fiber intake is around 22 grams, which is low.  If your fiber intake is also below 25-35 grams, look for ways to boost your fiber intake.  Using the above example, you could swap out the OJ for a piece of whole fruit to add ~4 grams of fiber, sprinkle 1 Tbsp of ground flaxseed on the yogurt to add 2 grams of fiber, select whole grain bread that provides 5 grams or more fiber per slice, and increase your broccoli and cauliflower serving to 1 cup with your evening meal.  These changes would increase total fiber intake to around 34 grams.

     

    If you currently consume a low fiber diet, making a sudden increase can result in unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects (i.e. flatulence and diarrhea).  Increase your fiber intake gradually to avoid side effects.

     

    Be sure to sign up for the free e-course How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps.

Published On: October 27, 2009