5 Fiber-Enriched Foods that Lower Cholesterol Naturally

Health & Wellness, Heart Health, Nutrition, Uncategorized

During my training, I had the good fortune to be mentored by the late Dr. Peter Kwiterovich Jr., a true pioneer in the cholesterol field.  In fact, “Dr. Pete” as he was affectionately referred to by his patients, (many of whom were children/teenagers since he was a pediatrician by training), started the Johns Hopkins Lipid Clinic in the early 1970s, years before “cholesterol” became a household word.  Needless to say, his 1989 book, “Beyond Cholesterol: The Johns Hopkins Complete Guide for Avoiding Heart Disease” has stood the test of time and remains a classic for anyone interested in learning why “it’s more than just cholesterol”.  Still, cholesterol remains an important predictor of heart disease (conferring up to 50% of heart attack risk) and lowering your levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad cholesterol” will reduce your overall risk of a cardiovascular event.  In this post, 5 foods are discussed that lower LDL cholesterol levels naturally.  If you incorporate each of these 5 foods daily, you can lower LDL upwards of 15-20%! Whether or not lowering LDL through diet/lifestyle alone is sufficient, depends upon your overall risk of a heart attack/stroke and should be discussed with your health care professional.

  1. Oats: oats are good sources of soluble fiber that bind and eliminate cholesterol from the gut. Consuming 1 bowl of oatmeal daily may reduce LDL cholesterol levels ~5-7 mg/dL.
  2. Pectin: pectin is contained in the inner white rind of citrus fruits (e.g., oranges, grapefruits). Eating 1-2 medium sized grapefruits daily lowers LDL cholesterol ~2-4 mg/dL.
  3. Legumes: these seeds derived from pod plants (lentils, peas, chickpeas), contain the soluble fiber, guar gum. Consuming 1 cup of legumes daily in place of red meat can reduce LDL cholesterol levels by ~6-8 mg/dL.
  4. Psyllium: another water-soluble fiber that is sold in husks, or as the laxative, Metamucil. Each packet of Metamucil reduces LDL cholesterol ~3-5 mg/dL and I commonly recommend 1 packet (or tablespoon of psyllium) mixed in at least 8 ounces of fluid (up to 3 times daily) for patients with high LDL cholesterol levels and ensuring that other medications are taken at least 45 minutes before Metamucil.
  5. Beta-glucan: a type of viscous fiber, found in barley, mushrooms (e.g., shiitake, reishi) and seaweed, can have significant LDL lowering effects; each gram of beta-glucan consumed daily reduces LDL ~2 mg/dL. Try a hearty bowl of vegetable barley soup with shiitake mushrooms and lower your cholesterol naturally! Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.  For many more tips on how to optimize your heart health, check out his book,  Heal Your Heart…”: published by Penguin Random House.

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