Do You Know Nutrition? Diet high in fiber helps lower cholesterol

July 12, 2011 at 2:12 a.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

By Phylis Canion

Is it true that eating fiber can lower cholesterol?

First, a bit of information about cholesterol. Cholesterol, a hard, waxy lipid substance that melts at three hundred degrees, is essential for our health, but we do not need to obtain it from foods.

Our body can manufacture it from simpler substances which it derives from the breakdown of sugars, fats and even proteins, especially when our food intake of these foods supplies us with calories in excess of our body's requirements. The more excess calories we consume, from sugars, fats and non-essential fatty acids, the more pressure there is on our body to make cholesterol. Also, the more stress we are under, the more cholesterol our body makes because cholesterol is the precursor of stress hormones.

Cholesterol is unique in that our body can make it; however, once made, it cannot break it down. By contrast, sugars, fatty acids, amino acids and nucleic acids can all be taken apart, turned into carbon dioxide, water and ammonia. As a result of this peculiarity, cholesterol must (and can only) be removed from our body through our stool, according to biochemist Dr. Udo Eramus.

The removal of cholesterol, therefore, is increased by dietary fiber. Oats, beans, fruits and vegetables are high soluble fiber foods that are beneficial in reducing cholesterol. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, glucomannan (konjac root), a water soluble dietary fiber, that can be taken daily as a supplement or powder, can also lower cholesterol.

If fiber is absent from the diet, up to 94 percent of the cholesterol and bile acids are re-absorbed and recycled. This is one of the reasons why low-fiber diets increase blood cholesterol levels.

Like yourself, I am a food trivia buff, but you have not had a trivia question in a while. Any chance you can share more trivia?

Put your thinking cap on for this bit of trivia. "G" was a surveyor, schoolteacher, newspaper publisher, inventor and businessman. An early pioneer settler in Texas, he made the first topographical map of Texas, and in 1838, he surveyed and laid out the site of Galveston.

He developed a meat biscuit in 1851, and after several failed attempts, finally developed a method to make a new product in 1853 - a product that scientific experts said was impossible to make.

He had to work hard to convince the U.S. Patent office to grant him a patent, but finally obtained one in 1856. His first attempt to market this product ended in business failure, but finally with financial backing from a wholesale grocer, he founded a new company which has become the largest of its kind. Any guesses yet? If you guessed Gail Borden, inventor of condensed milk and founder of New York Milk Co., later renamed Borden Inc., which became the largest dairy in the United States, you are correct.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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