6 – Cabbage and LDL cholesterol
Cabbage is a great source of soluble fiber with about 40% of the fiber being soluble fiber. Consuming 10 – 25 grams of soluble fiber each day is recommended as part of a diet for lowering cholesterol.
Soluble fiber and cholesterol
Cholesterol is essential for the proper functioning of the body, but elevated levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol can increase risk of heart disease. Research has found cabbage intake to be associated with a reduction in LDL cholesterol as well as oxidized LDL cholesterol, which is a known risk factor for development of atherosclerosis. The soluble fiber in cabbage helps to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol by preventing its absorption into the blood by the binding of the soluble fiber with cholesterol in the gut. The liver makes use of cholesterol as a basic building block for producing bile acids which are molecules assisting with the digestion and absorption of fat. The soluble fiber in cabbage can bind together with the bile acids in the digestive tract for excretion. When this happens, the excreted bile acids need to be replaced by the liver by drawing upon the existing cholesterol supply, which results in a reduction in cholesterol levels.
A meta-analysis of 67 studies revealed that individuals eating 2–10 grams of soluble fiber a day experienced a modest but significant reduction in LDL cholesterol levels of about 2.2 mg/deciliter.
Phytosterols and cholesterol
Cabbage also contains substances known as phytosterols, which are plant compounds structurally similar to cholesterol. Phytosterols lower LDL cholesterol by blocking the cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract. A phytosterol intake increase of 1 gram a day can lower LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 5%.