The Skinny on Cholesterol

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) have a bad name

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) have a bad name. That’s because elevated levels of this type of cholesterol can cause the formation of plaque on coronary-artery walls. The result? Narrowing of the arteries, and possibly heart attack or stroke.

High-density lipoproteins (HDL), meanwhile, are the good guys. They help remove cholesterol from the bloodstream, to protective effect.

Put it all together and the equation looks like this: the lower your level of LDL and the higher your HDL, the better your chances of preventing heart disease and other chronic conditions.

One way to lower bad cholesterol is to consume adequate amounts of fibre.

Facts on fibre

Fibre is an essential nutrient and a key component of healthy eating.

There are two types:

Insoluble fibre, which helps soften stool and prevent constipation is found in wheat bran, whole-grain breads and cereals, flaxseeds, and the skin of vegetables and fruit.

Soluble fibre, which helps lower blood cholesterol and slows down the rate that sugar enters into the blood can be found in oats, barley, psyllium, legumes, and some vegetables, fruit, and seeds.

Getting plenty of both types is important.

Ways to boost your fibre intake

  • Opt for whole wheat flour, grains, pasta, and rice instead of white varieties.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, ideally with the skin on.
  • Incorporate more legumes, such as chick peas, beans, and lentils, into your diet. Mix them into a tomato sauce to go with noodles or rice or add some to soup or a salad.
  • Add fruit such as blueberries or a banana to a morning bowl of high-fibre cereal.
  • Add sesame, pumpkin, or pumpkin seeds to a salad.
  • Sprinkle ground flaxseed or bran on yogourt or cereal or add some to smoothies or baked goods.
  • Drink plenty of water, about one to two litres a day, since fluids help the body use fibre.
  • Consider supplements.

How much fibre is enough?

The average daily fibre intake among Canadians is about 14 grams. However, that’s short of recommended goals.

Daily fibre intake goals
Men 19 to 50 38 grams per day
Men over 50 30 grams per day
Women 19 to 50 25 grams per day
Women over 50 21 grams per day

Increase the fibre in your diet gradually to avoid gas, bloating, and diarrhea.


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