We all know fibre is good for us (even though we don't get enough of it). In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a critic of fibre, which has been linked to host a health benefits. It helps the digestive tract, and is recommended in the prevention of colon of cancer. But we don't always appreciate this dynamo's ability to lower cholesterol levels – the type of fat-like, waxy substance found in the bloodstream and our body's cells.
Unfortunately, as many as 36 percent of Canadian women have no idea how high or low their cholesterol level is, even though 51 percent have a history of high cholesterol, heart disease, heart attack or stroke in their family, according to a survey by Ipsos-Reid. The same survey shows that 49 percent of Canadian women don't know how much fibre they need or what kind of fibre is best for them. Here's what you need to know about how these two factors add up to a healthier you.
Fibre + lower LDL cholesterol = healthy you
Cholesterol, which our body produces and we also get from food, is a necessary substance. The body uses it to produce cell membranes and some hormones. Your cholesterol count is made up of triglycerides, and two types of lipids, called LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol. The former can form a plaque, a thick, hard deposit on artery walls; the latter helps slow unhealthy buildup.
Too much LDL cholesterol is a bad thing. Your doctor may prescribe, among other helpful preventive efforts, a diet high in fibre to help combat high cholesterol. A diet rich in fibre (and low in fat) has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 20 percent. And yet most of us don't consume enough fibre - the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends between 21 and 38 grams of fibre daily. We may be wary of potential side effects such as gas and bloating, however they don't occur if you gradually increase fibre, maintain a diet high in fibre and stay well hydrated.
In order to get the most benefits of high-fibre diet, experts recommend a variety of fibres. Many whole plants foods are rich in different types of dietary fibre such as pectin, mucilage and soluble fibre – one of the best types of fibre for lowering cholesterol. Whole, fortified foods and fibre supplements are also excellent sources of cholesterol-lowering fibre. Supplements are a convenient way to complement other sources of fibre in your diet, helping to make sure you maintain a healthy fibre-cholesterol-lowering equation.
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