Role of water-soluble dietary fiber in the management of elevated plasma cholesterol in healthy subjects

Am J Cardiol. 1992 Feb 15;69(5):433-9. doi: 10.1016/0002-9149(92)90980-d.


Guidelines for the use of water-soluble dietary fibers (WSDF) in the dietary management of elevated plasma cholesterol are not well-established. Consequently, 4 studies were conducted to explore the plasma lipid-lowering effects of a variety of WSDF. Studies were randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials involving healthy men and women (plasma cholesterol greater than 5.17 mmol/liter; greater than 200 mg/dl). Study duration ranged from 4 to 12 weeks. The WSDF acacia gum yields a low viscosity, palatable beverage when mixed in water. However, despite its WSDF classification, acacia gum consumed for 4 weeks as the sole WSDF source (15 g of WSDF/day) or primary source in a WSDF mixture (17.2 g of WSDF/day; 56% derived from acacia gum) did not produce a significant lipid-lowering effect versus placebo. When 15 g of WSDF/day consisting of psyllium hust, pectin, and guar and locust bean gums (medium viscosity) was consumed for 4 weeks, significant reductions in cholesterol resulted (total cholesterol 8.3%, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol 12.4%; p less than 0.001) that were comparable to changes achieved with 10 g of WSDF/day from high-viscosity guar gum. The magnitude of the lipid-lowering effect was related to intake of WSDF ranging from 5 to 15 g/day (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol +0.8% [placebo], -5.6% [5 g/day], -6.8% [10 g/day], -14.9% [15 g/day]; p less than 0.01 for trend). The effects of WSDF on plasma lipids were similar for men and women. A diet rich in selected WSDF may be a useful adjunct to the dietary management of elevated plasma cholesterol.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Dietary Fiber / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Galactans
  • Gum Arabic / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / diet therapy*
  • Male
  • Mannans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pectins / therapeutic use
  • Plant Gums
  • Polysaccharides / therapeutic use
  • Solubility
  • Viscosity
  • Water


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Galactans
  • Mannans
  • Plant Gums
  • Polysaccharides
  • Water
  • Pectins
  • Gum Arabic
  • locust bean gum