How the psyllium fiber in metamucil can help lower cholesterol
Our bodies’ organ systems are all interconnected, working towards the same cause to keep us healthy and running at our best. Cholesterol, for example, travels through the blood stream to play a role in protecting our cells, stress responses, and more. But in excess, its plaque buildup is harmful to the body. Metamucil, a psyllium husk fiber supplement, is often known for promoting digestive health and maintaining regularity.* But did you know it also helps lower cholesterol to promote heart health?†
Find out how psyllium, the super fiber in Metamucil, can help lower cholesterol to promote heart health.†
What is Psyllium Fiber?
Psyllium husk, also known as ispaghula, has traditionally been used as an herbal medicine to promote the body’s overall health and well-being. Today, psyllium fiber is known as one of the most effective fibers for supporting healthy digestion.* While approximately 85% of the psyllium on the market is grown in India, psyllium also grows naturally in China and other regions including the Mediterranean. Unlike some other fibers, psyllium, which comes from the seed husk of Plantago ovata, is water-soluble and gel-forming. Its gelatinous properties and tendency take up water enable it to deliver multiple health benefits. Metamucil is the only leading fiber supplement brand that contains psyllium—and when taken daily, you can get all of the benefits psyllium fiber has to offer from it.^ One of the main benefits of taking the psyllium fiber in Metamucil daily is that it helps lower cholesterol.†
Cholesterol and Its Role in Our Bodily Functions
What is cholesterol, and why can it be harmful?
Cholesterol is a type of fat found throughout our bodies. You may think that all cholesterol is bad—not true. Cholesterol plays a role in important bodily functions like stress responses, reproduction, nutrient absorption, and the protection of our cells. Cholesterol becomes problematic when excess cholesterol starts traveling through and sticking around in our blood. If too much of it builds up inside our arteries, the build-up of plaque increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In short, high cholesterol is a risk factor for developing coronary heart disease.
How do cholesterol levels rise?
Molecules known as lipoproteins carry cholesterol from the liver, where cholesterol is made, to the cells that need it to carry out critical bodily functions. These lipoproteins also carry cholesterol back to the liver to be eliminated from the body. Lipoproteins called low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) take cholesterol to the body’s cells, while high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) facilitate the removal of the cholesterol from the body. Because LDLs work to distribute cholesterol through the bloodstream, whereas HDLs work to rid the body of excess cholesterol, LDLs and HDLs are often referred to as “bad” fats and “good” fats, respectively. When people have “high cholesterol,” it means that they have elevated levels of LDLs, or “bad fats” in their blood.
How can fiber combat high cholesterol?
Diets that are high in fiber have been shown to reduce LDLs and therefore lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Based on these observations, the USDA recommends that people consume about 28 grams of fiber each day. Specific recommendations vary depending on factors like sex and age, with men and young adults generally requiring higher doses of fiber. Despite expert recommendations, only 5% of adults get their daily recommended fiber intake. Fiber supplements like Metamucil can help you increase your daily fiber intake. The fiber in Metamucil, psyllium husk, has been proven to help lower cholesterol.†
How Psyllium Helps Lower Cholesterol†
When was psyllium fiber recognized for promoting heart health?
Because of the evidence of the cardiovascular benefits of psyllium, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998 ruled that foods containing psyllium fiber can state on their labels that diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 7 grams of soluble fiber per day from psyllium husk may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol. One serving of Metamucil powder has 2.4 grams of this soluble fiber. One serving of Metamucil capsules has at least 1.8 grams of this soluble fiber.
Psyllium fiber helps to keep cholesterol in the digestive symptom.
After we eat, bile – which contains cholesterol – is released from the liver to help us digest our food. Once the bile has helped us absorb nutrients, it’s recycled back to the liver. However, if what we are digesting contains psyllium, the substance will be thicker and stickier, making it harder for the bile to get out of the gut. Psyllium’s gel-forming properties help to trap the bile and its cholesterol inside the digestive system, preventing it from getting back into the blood and raising our cholesterol levels.
Psyllium fiber helps eliminate cholesterol from the body.
The digestive system absorbs what it can from what we eat as food travels through the system. What’s left is then removed from the body during bowel movements. More cholesterol trapped within the digestive system in the form of bile means more of it leaves our body. Because bile is needed for proper digestion, the body has to compensate for the bile lost from the body when psyllium is present. To create the additional bile needed, the liver uses cholesterol from the blood, so as more bile is created, blood cholesterol levels are lowered.
Psyllium leads to less LDL (bad) cholesterol. Researchers investigating the effect of psyllium on cholesterol have observed an association between higher levels of bile acid synthesis and reductions in LDL cholesterol levels in those taking psyllium. Because the body uses cholesterol to create this bile, there is less cholesterol left over in the blood stream as LDL
How Much Psyllium Fiber Do I Need to Take to Help Lower Cholesterol?
To promote heart health and help lower cholesterol,† take Metamucil as follows:
- For the Sugar Free Powder and Premium blend, take one rounded teaspoon three times per day.
- For the Real Sugar Powder, take one rounded tablespoon three times per day.
- For the Capsules, take five capsules four times per day. Overall, talking to your healthcare provider about starting a new supplement is a good idea, as there are several factors that can play a role in your heart health.
5 More Things You Can Do to Help Lower Cholesterol and Promote Heart Health
It’s important to keep HDL levels high and LDL levels low to prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. However, high cholesterol isn’t the only risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Along with maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol, you can do more to promote your cardiovascular health.
Get your muscles moving and blood flowing with exercise. Regular exercise is known to reduce the risk for cardiovascular health. There is a significant amount of evidence demonstrating the benefits of exercise on cardiovascular health.
2. Eat Smart
There is an abundance of evidence that show that eating high levels of unsaturated fats and low levels of saturated fats can lower cholesterol levels and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. That means incorporate more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, fish, and poultry into your diet, and eat less high-fat dairy products and meat.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is much easier said than done for many of us. Consider talking to an expert like a doctor, licensed nutritionist, or dietician if eating smart and exercising regularly are not enough to get to or maintain a healthy weight.
4. Refrain from Smoking
Smoking poses several well-established health risks and no health benefits. If you don’t smoke, great! If you do, it’s highly recommended to quit the habit. Regardless of your cholesterol levels, quitting smoking reduces cardiovascular disease risk and increases life expectancy.
5. Talk to Your Doctor
Your cardiovascular health can be compromised for a variety of reasons. Work with your own healthcare provider to determine the best ways for you to manage your health. Ultimately, they’re your best resource for your health-related choices and behaviors
Sources (Accessed May 2020)
- Science Direct, “Plantago ovata”
- Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (2017), “Fiber Supplements and Clinically Proven Health Benefits: How to Recognize and Recommend an Effective Fiber Therapy
- Nutrition Today (2015), “Evidence-Based Approach to Fiber Supplements and Clinically Meaningful Health Benefits, Part 2: What to Look for and How to Recommend an Effective Fiber Therapy”
- Journal of Lipid Research (1992), “Effects of Psyllium Hydrophilic Mucilloid on LDL Cholesterol and Bile Acid Synthesis in Hypercholesterolemic Men”
- Institute for Qualitya nd Efficiency in Healthcare, “High Cholesterol: Lowering Cholesterol Without Tablets”
*THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THIS PRODUCT IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.
†Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 7 grams of soluble fiber per day from psyllium husk, as in Metamucil, may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol. One serving of Metamucil has 2.4 grams of this soluble fiber. One serving of Metamucil capsules has at least 1.8 grams of this soluble fiber.
**Survey of 291 adults who self-reported that they felt lighter and more energetic after completing the Metamucil Two Week Challenge.
^P&G calculation based in part on data reported by Nielsen through its ScanTrack Service for the Digestive Health category for the 52-week period ending 04/27/19, for the total U.S. market, xAOC, according to the P&G custom product hierarchy. Copyright © 2019, The Nielsen Company.