Dietary fibre refers to the indigestible part of plant-based foods. These parts contain substances such as cellulose, pectin and lignin, which are resistant to the action of digestive enzymes.
Types of Dietary Fibre
Fibre is essential for aiding digestion, lowering high cholesterol levels and managing weight. Also, similar to cholesterol, which is found in the body in two types, namely HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein), dietary fibre can also be categorised into two types-
- Soluble fibre
- Insoluble fibre
Learn More: Truth About LDL & HDL Cholesterol
As the names suggest, soluble fibre such as gum, pectin and mucilage dissolves to form a gel-like substance during digestion. Soluble fibre can be easily found in a variety of foods such as-
- Citrus fruits
On the other hand, insoluble fibre such as hemicellulose, cellulose and ligin does not dissolve and retains its shape during digestion. Foods high in insoluble fibre are-
- Wheat bran & flour
- Brown rice
Excess levels of cholesterol levels in the body lead to plaque build-up in the arteries. This can restrict proper supply of blood and oxygen to the heart and increase one’s risk of suffering from problems, such as severe chest pain, blood clotting, or even a heart attack.
But luckily for us both soluble and insoluble fibre are mighty warriors when it comes to fighting against high cholesterol levels. They bind with cholesterol and help lowers its levels by flushing it out of the body. Here’s how soluble and insoluble fibre help lower high cholesterol levels-
- Protects against heart disease
- Reduces risk of diabetes
- Aids healthy weight loss
- Promotes bowel movement
Protects against heart disease
Soluble fibre helps flush out excess cholesterol from the body, thus helping keep the arteries safe from plaque build-up. This reduces one’s risk of suffering from serious heart problems such as a heart attack or severe chest pain.
Reduces risk of diabetes
Diabetes is a health disorder which can cause high cholesterol levels. While most carbohydrates easily break down into sugar molecules in the digestive system, dietary fibre remains relatively intact. Thus, this unique characteristic of dietary fibre makes it a superfood when it comes to lowering high blood sugar levels and protecting against the risk of developing diabetes.
Aids healthy weight loss
Being overweight or obese can be a major contributing factor to high cholesterol levels. However, fibre keeps you feeling full for longer and prevents hunger pangs and overeating and helps one maintain a healthy weight.
Promotes bowel movement
Insoluble fibre keeps food moving properly through the system, protecting against bowel-related problems such as constipation, haemorrhoids and fecal incontinence. This, in turn, helps keeps our body clean and toxin-free and restricts high cholesterol levels from building up.
Add More Fibre to your Diet
One of the easiest ways to fight cholesterol is to increase the intake of soluble fibre. This can be found in abundance in plant foods, especially fresh, raw and unpeeled fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in fibre lowers cholesterol, blood pressure and keeps heart attacks and stroke at bay.
A regular intake of 40-45 grams fibre a day is recommended to prevent heart disease. Researchers consider pectin (found in apples) to be the best-known form of soluble fiber. Hence, apples are extremely potent in fighting cholesterol. So if you have high cholesterol, or simply want to lower your risk of suffering from high cholesterol, here are a few ways to add more fibre in your daily diet.
- Consume 2-3 fibreours fruits daily (apple, banana, orange)
- Start your day with a bowl of oats
- Add beans to your salads or rice dishes
- Substitute your evening snack with some heart-healthy nuts (walnuts, almonds)
- Add whole dals like channa, rajma, chowli to your diet
- Substitute your maida rotis with wheat bran
- Load up on fruit or vegetable salads & juices
Now you know what to eat, you should also be aware of what to avoid. Foods high in saturated fats and oils can lead to high cholesterol levels and can hamper all your efforts at lowering your cholesterol levels. Here’s a list of high-cholesterol foods you should limit or avoid consuming on a daily basis-
- Junk, fried & oily foods
- Pastries, sweets & creams
- Maida based foods
- Coconut oil
If you have already gotten into the habit of eating healthy, you are on the right track! However, if you are not, this would be a good time to start including fibreous foods in your diet. They will naturally keep high cholesterol levels at bay, aid weight loss and promote overall good health. If you have any further questions or queries, we would be glad to hear from you. You could give us a call on our toll-free number 18002660607 or walk-in to any Health Total centre for your free consultation today!