Eating foods high in dietary fiber may help lower your cholesterol. During digestion, your body releases bile acids, which contain cholesterol. Normally some of this cholesterol, along with dietary cholesterol from food, gets absorbed into your body during digestion. However, when fiber is present, it helps bind cholesterol to bile acids and remove them from your body in waste. One form of fiber, called soluble fiber, seems to be of most benefit for lowering cholesterol levels, according to the National Institutes of Health.
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Oats, barley and wheat bran are the grains that contain the greatest amount of soluble fiber per serving, according to Harvard University Health Sciences. Incorporating these grains into your diet may help lower your cholesterol. To get more oats, eat a bowl of hot oatmeal with fresh berries and flaxseeds, granola made from rolled oats or homemade oat muffins or bars. Barley makes a hearty addition to soups and stews or can be served as a side dish in place of rice. Look for breads and cereals made with wheat bran.
Beans and Peas
Black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas and green peas have the most soluble fiber per serving. Use beans to make high-fiber burritos, soups, chili, curry or stew. You can also puree chickpeas to make hummus dip for veggies and breads or top a salad with cooked beans to get more fiber. Beans may cause gas in some people, so it's a good idea to slowly increase your legume intake to avoid discomfort.
Apricots, apples, figs, grapefruit, mangoes, oranges, peaches, pears, plums and strawberries contain the most soluble fiber for fruits. Slice fruit for midday snacks or make a mixed fruit salad from your favorite varieties. Stick with the whole fruits as opposed to juices or dried fruit to get the most benefit. Juices have less fiber than the whole fruit contains. Dried varieties lack the moisture that whole fruit provides and it's easy to overeat dried fruit.
Focus on eating more asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips and okra to get more soluble fiber. These vegetables work well as side dishes or can be incorporated into stir-fries or soups. Carrot sticks make a low-calorie, high-fiber snack during the day.
Nuts and Seeds
Flaxseeds and chia seeds are excellent sources of dietary fiber. Adding just 1 tablespoon of these seeds to food provides about 3.5 grams of fiber. Try topping your oatmeal or cereal with chia or flaxseeds or incorporate them into homemade breads and muffins. Snacking on other nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and peanuts, helps boost your daily fiber intake as well.