Fiber in Oats and Beans Helps Lower Cholesterol
"But rather than focusing on foods to avoid, we should focus on food substitutions and portion control. That means more servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains," says Moore. "At the same time, it means fewer servings of meats and high-fat dairy products. It's also possible to get psyllium from dietary sources like oats and dried peas and beans." Moore tells WebMD that questions about psyllium fiber remain, and the researchers agree.
"In a recent study, a greater response in LDL cholesterol was observed in men," says Anderson. "And in previous studies, older adults showed greater reductions. Clearly, additional research is needed to clarify the effects of psyllium in population subgroups."
Anderson tells WebMD that psyllium is a natural source of fiber that has been used as a laxative for over 60 years. Though its mechanism of action is unclear, data suggest that it lowers serum cholesterol by increasing bile acid, decreasing absorption of fat and cholesterol, and inhibiting production of cholesterol by the liver. Two years ago, the FDA authorized manufacturers and distributors to claim that foods containing 1.7 grams of psyllium per serving reduce the risk of heart disease.
The study was funded in part by the Proctor & Gamble Company, maker of Metamucil.
- A review of several studies shows that psyllium fiber in addition to a low-fat diet can help lower cholesterol levels.
- The results showed the psyllium group lowered their total cholesterol an extra 4%.
- Older participants seemed to show the most benefit, although effects were consistent between men and women.