There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble fiber. Both are beneficial to your health, but in terms of heart health and lowering cholesterol, soluble fiber seems to be the way to go. Soluble fiber attaches to cholesterol during digestion and prevents the cholesterol from entering your bloodstream. Instead, the cholesterol is eliminated when you use the restroom.
Soluble fiber appears to only be effective against LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol), which is good, but if you have high triglyceride levels you may want to look at other dietary changes like adding fish oil. Soluble fiber has no effect on HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), which is also beneficial since it does not lower it. Remember you want you LDL cholesterol to be lower and your HDL cholesterol to be higher.
You can see a change in LDL cholesterol levels with the addition on 5-10 grams of soluble fiber a day.
Foods high in soluble fiber:
Whole grains: 1-2 grams of soluble fiber in ½ cup of barley, oatmeal, oat bran, and quinoa
Lean proteins: 1-3 grams in ½ cup of beans, black eyed peas, chick peas, black beans, soy beans, etc.
Healthy fats: 1 gram in 2 Tbs avocado, 1 Tbs whole chia seeds, and 2 Tbs ground flax seeds.
Vegetables: 1 gram in ½ cup of cooked or 1 cup raw broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, green beans, okra, onions, parsnips, and turnips
Starchy vegetables: 1 gram in ½ cup of sweet potatoes and green peas
Fruits: 1 gram in 1 medium apple, banana, orange, peach, pear, or 1 cup of berries
What does 5-10 grams of soluble fiber look like in a day?
Breakfast: 1 cup of oatmeal + 1 Tbs chia seeds = 3 grams
Lunch: 1 cup of chili with beans + banana for dessert = 4 grams
Snack: ½ cup carrots + ¼ cup hummus = 2 grams
Dinner: side of a 1 cup serving of steamed broccoli = 2 grams
Total = 11 grams of soluble fiber for the day
Working with a registered dietitian can help you make heart-healthy meals that fit into your lifestyle.