Should You Use Metamucil to Lower LDL Cholesterol?by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Professional
Currently the American Heart Association recommends everyone consume 25 to 30 grams of dietary fiber daily. The average American only consumes 15 grams of fiber daily.
Why do most people fall short? Top sources of dietary fiber include legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. How many servings do you eat of these foods daily? If you are like most American's your intake of processed foods (i.e. foods that have the fiber removed) tends to be greater than high fiber food sources.
For a recap of the different types of fiber - soluble and insoluble - refer to the previous post - Dietary Fiber: 4 Tips to Lower Cholesterol with Fiber.
How much soluble fiber?
If you are going to incorporate fiber in your treatment plan to lower LDL cholesterol, you'll want to aim for 10-25 grams of soluble fiber daily. Keep in mind, your total dietary fiber intake will be higher, right here we are just talking about the soluble fiber portion. If you eat a standard American diet your total soluble fiber intake is probably only 3-4 grams per day. You'll want to add legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to your daily diet as you work to increase your soluble fiber intake. You may want to use the psyllium husk of Metamucil to supplement your dietary intake. Using the capsules you could add an extra 2-5 grams of soluble fiber to your daily intake.
Will this psyllium husk really help?
According to research published in the 1999 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists estimate a 1.6 mg/dl drop in LDL cholesterol for every gram of soluble fiber consumed from psyllium, oats, or pectin. In theory that means you could lower your LDL from 140 mg/dl to 120 mg/dl by eating 12 grams of soluble fiber daily.
I say "in theory" because there are more diet and lifestyle factors that impact LDL cholesterol levels than just soluble fiber intake. As you increase your soluble fiber intake you'll want to work with your physician to monitor your lab results to determine the impact your changes are having. Your treatment plan will likely be a combination of steps to lower LDL cholesterol, not just soluble fiber alone.
What are additional benefits of psyllium husk?
The high fiber content of Metamucil also promotes faster digestion. This is beneficial for health, because the faster contents move through the gut the fewer unhealthy contaminants - such as carcinogens or pollutants - are absorbed into the intestine. Not only does a diet high in fiber promote a lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk, a high fiber intake will also promote diabetes management and a healthy weight.