When you think about getting more fibre, you probably think of eating more beans, fruits and vegetables and whole grains (all good choices). In fact, one of the best sources of soluble fibre is psyllium, pronounced "sil-ee-um," and it is derived from the husks of seeds of Plantago ovata. Eating psyllium can do more than help keep you regular - it may help you lower your cholesterol.

Psyllium comes from an annual grain that is native to Asia, the Mediterranean region and North Africa. Each plant produces up to 15,000 tiny, gel-coated seeds, and it is the primary, naturally sourced ingredient, in many fibre supplements.

Psyllium keeps you regular
The grain is a bulk-forming fibre and contains both soluble and insoluble fibre, both of which are important. Bulk-forming fibres are laxatives because of their water-holding properties. The psyllium absorbs and holds moisture, causing it to swell and supply the necessary bulk to help form an easily eliminated stool (without any chemical stimulants). Psyllium works effectively within 12 to 72 hours and can be used as either a laxative or a daily fibre supplement.

Psyllium lowers cholesterol
The soluble fibre found in high amounts in psyllium may help lower cholesterol, a waxy, fat-like substances that is found in the body's blood and cells. Cholesterol is necessary and normal. Our bodies produce some, and we get some from the foods we eat. Your cholesterol count is made up of triglycerides, and two types of lipids, called LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol. The former can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit on artery walls; the latter helps slow unhealthy buildup. Too much LDL cholesterol is unhealthy.

The good news is that you can proactively change lower cholesterol by making dietary changes, especially by introducing more soluble fibre, such as psyllium, into your diet. Studies have shown that psyllium husk is effective in lowering total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein or LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels.*

It is safe to take a fibre supplement every day when used as directed (just remember to take it each time with a glass of water). Combining psyllium with other high fibre foods is a convenient and ideal way to reach the recommended goal of between 21 and 38 grams of fibre to stay regular and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

* Consult a doctor if you are considering use of this product as part of a cholesterol-lowering program.