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Fiber Enriched Flour May Reduce Cholesterol Levels in People with Metabolic Syndrome

High cholesterol has been linked with a higher risk of developing heart disease and type-2 diabetes. A recent study suggests that using resistant starch-enriched flour in the place of regular flour may lower cholesterol levels in people with metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors associated with chronic disease. They include high blood pressure, insulin resistance, large waist circumference, high triglyceride levels and high cholesterol. Presence of any three of the five risk factors results in a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.

Participants in the study included 86 members of the Hutterite community. Hutterites are a culturally homogenous Caucasian population who have a diet high in protein, fat, and salt but very low in fiber. They also have a higher incidence of metabolic syndrome than the general population – 46.5% compared to 34%.

For 12 weeks, half of the participants were instructed to use fiber-enriched flour in their food preparation and the other half used regular flour. At the conclusion of the study, the participants with metabolic syndrome in the enriched flour group had on average a 7.2% reduction in total cholesterol, a 5.5% reduction in non-HDL cholesterol and a 13% reduction in HDL cholesterol.

Those who did not have metabolic syndrome but used the enriched flour had reductions of 2.6% in waist circumference and 1.5% lower body fat when compared with the regular flour group.

The researchers believe that these beneficial health effects are due to the prebiotic activity produced by the fiber.

Researchers from South Dakota University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 30, 2014 in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

Previous studies have linked fiber consumption with lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, and regulating blood sugar for people with diabetes.

There are two tips of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can be found naturally in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium. Insoluble fiber can be found in whole wheat and grains, brown rice, fruit, broccoli, cabbage and dark leafy vegetables.

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