Psyllium Fibre

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Read on to find out more about psyllium fibre including its uses and benefits, how it works to lower cholesterol, how much is required and where to find it.

What is psyllium?

Psyllium is a fibre made from the seed husk of the plantago ovata plant which grows largely in Asia.  It is a source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, yielding about 70% soluble fibre and 30% insoluble fibre. 

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Psyllium fibre uses & benefits

The insoluble fibre found in psyllium adds bulk to stools and aids with regular bowel movements, while the soluble fibre may help relieve constipation, maintain blood glucose (sugar) levels, may help promote the feeling of fullness for longer after eating, which may help with overeating and weight management and helps lower blood cholesterol levels.

Research has shown psyllium soluble fibre can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.  This is of importance since high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease.

In fact, Health Canada reviewed the scientific evidence and concluded that evidence exists to support the health claim that links the consumption of psyllium fibre to a reduction of blood cholesterol and allows manufactures to put this health claim on certain food labels when specified conditions are met as set out by Health Canada. 

How does psyllium soluble fibre lower cholesterol?

The psyllium soluble fibre forms a gel-like material and as it moves through the digestive track it traps some cholesterol and bile acids and takes them out with it as waste.  

Bile acids are needed for normal digestion and are usually reabsorbed from the digestive track, but since they are trapped with the gel-like material formed from the psyllium soluble fibre and taken out as waste, the liver needs to use cholesterol from the blood to make new bile acids, thus lowering blood cholesterol levels.

What is the beneficial amount needed for cholesterol lowering?

Research suggests that an intake of 7 grams of psyllium soluble fibre per day results in meaningful LDL (bad) cholesterol lowering.  When Health Canada approved the health claim for psyllium soluble fibre and its cholesterol lowering effect, it set the daily amount required as 7 grams.

Where do I find psyllium fibre?

Psyllium fibre can be found in some cereal products such as Kellogg’s All-Bran Buds or in supplement form like Metamucil. 

Always consult with your healthcare provider to determine if supplementing with fibre is right for you.

Take Away

  • Psyllium is just one form of fibre offering health benefits.  Its Health Canada approved blood cholesterol lowering health claim can be achieved with a daily intake of 7 grams of psyllium soluble fibre. Remember a healthy diet is just one aspect of heart health and you should always consult a healthcare professional for advice and management of cholesterol and heart health.
  • Fibre is an important part of healthy diet, offering many different health benefits.  Fruits, vegetables, whole grains such as whole grain bread, cereals, pasta, brown rice, oats, legumes such as dried beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds all contain fibre.
  • Health Canada recommends adult women get 25 grams of fibre per day, while adult men get 38 grams of fibre per day.  Most Canadians are only getting half of their daily fibre requirements and can benefit from including more fibre as part of a healthy diet.
  • Tip:  Slowly increase the amount of fibre in your diet and drink plenty of fluids as your fibre intake increases to help the fibre work better and prevent gas and bloating.

For further information see my blog:

Fabulous fibre

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