Healthy Tips

The Fibre-Cholesterol Connection

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High level of cholesterol is related to the intake of processed foods, sedentary lifestyle, nutrient deficiencies and stress. Many people think that cholesterol in the diet is directly responsible for cholesterol in the blood.

So, all they have to do is to cut out high-cholesterol foods and their blood cholesterol will become normal. This is a misconception. Merely cutting down on dietary cholesterol will have an insignificant effect on blood cholesterol.

Relying on a low cholesterol diet to lower blood cholesterol probably won’t work for most people. When the body is fed with high cholesterol foods like eggs, red meat, high fat dairy products, the excess cholesterol is metabolised and excreted leaving blood levels unchanged. Further more, the liver compensates for the excess intake of cholesterol by reducing its own production so that the blood levels of cholesterol do not rise. All this happens if the person is leading a healthy lifestyle, consuming a lot of antioxidants in the form of fruits and vegetables; eating whole food in the form of whole grain cereals, whole grain pulses and avoiding processed and refined foods in addition to exercising. All these factors insulate him from mishandling dietary cholesterol.

On the other hand, if he is living a life of stress and eating the regular fat-food fare as well as a diet rich in cholesterol, namely eggs, red meat and saturated fat in animal foods, then his body metabolises dietary cholesterol differently. The liver then, does not act as a safeguard, instead it allows the excess dietary cholesterol to enter the blood stream and subsequently stores it in the blood vessels and coronary arteries. Such people get affected by cholesterol rich foods and benefit from reducing their dietary cholesterol intake. This only justifies the phrase `one man’s food is another man’s poison’.

Whatever be the reason of raising blood cholesterol, the answer is quite simple. When you increase your intake of soluble fibre, it helps bring down the blood cholesterol dramatically. A point to note here is that fibre occurs exclusively in plant food. Animal foods like chicken, fish, meat, beef, cheese, eggs, milk, have little or no fibre to boast of. Fresh, raw unpeeled fruits and vegetables are high in fibre. Cooking vegetables especially the way we do it in Indian cooking (soggy and overcooked) destroys much fibre.

Juices have little or no fibre. similarly, unrefined grains products like dalia (broken wheat), whole wheat flour, wheat puffs, brown rice, jowar and bajra flour, whole dals like channa, rajma, chowli, beans, etc. are high in fibre.

Breads and biscuits high in fibre will list `whole wheat flour’ and not just `wheat flour’, as their chief ingredient on the label. Wheat bran is one of the highest fibre foods known because its fibre content is about 50 per cent. There is no doubt that a diet rich in soluble fibre can lower blood cholesterol, blood pressure and prevent strokes as well as heart attacks.

So how much fibre should you eat? It has been seen that in most Asian countries incidence of heart disease and diabetes is low. People in these countries consume anywhere between 40-60 gms of fibre per day. An intake of 35-40 gms of fibre is recommended to prevent heart disease. To increase the fibre content of your diet and thereby reduce cholesterol levels, all you have to do is follow the table.


– Unpeeled fruits and vegetables
– Whole wheat bread (please note whole wheat bread is not the same as brown bread)
– Fresh fruits
– Brown rice or wild rice
– Whole grain dals like channa, rajma, black dal chowli, green mung
– Whole wheat flour
– Popped corn and puffed wheat
– Snack on high fibre biscuits like those made from millets or bran or soya bean or whole wheat flour
– Skimmed milk
– Red wine


– Peeled fruits and vegetables
– White bread
– Fruit juices
– Polished white rice
– Animal protein
– White flour ( maida )
– Potato chips and fried sev
– Maida biscuits, where the label reads as ‘wheat flour’ as their main ingredient
– Whole milk
– Any other form of alcohol

Source: The Times Of India

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