Too Much Fiber in Your Low Cholesterol Diet

Soluble fiber, or fiber that is able to absorb water, can be an important part of your cholesterol-friendly diet. Because this type of fiber becomes gel-like as it moves through your digestive tract, it is able to remove the cholesterol, a waxy substance, found in the intestines. While it is possible to consume too much fiber, only 5% of Americans eat the recommended amount.

Person stirring lentil soup.
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This article explains if it's possible to consume too much fiber, as well as the recommended amount for a cholesterol-friendly diet. It also covers how to overcome the side effects of having too much fiber.

How Much Fiber Should I Have?

The American Heart Association recommends an average of 28 grams of fiber a day. However, daily fiber needs can vary from person to person.

Fiber can be found in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. It can also be taken with fiber supplements that are typically mixed into water. Because most people do not eat the recommended amount of fiber, many food manufacturers also make snacks with added fiber.

Eating too much fiber, or quickly going from a low-fiber diet to one high in fiber can lead to uncomfortable side effects such as:

In rare instances, an intestinal blockage may occur if you eat an excessive amount of fiber in your diet.

The majority of Americans do not consume enough daily fiber. Speak with your healthcare provider or registered dietitian about how much daily fiber you need.

How Can I Overcome the Side Effects of Fiber?

Including fiber-rich foods in your heart-healthy diet can help keep your cholesterol levels within a healthy range. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid uncomfortable side effects so you can still get the full benefits of fiber:

  • Slowly increase your consumption of fiber over a period of a few weeks. This can be especially important in preventing certain side effects, such as gas, stomach discomfort, and diarrhea.
  • Drink plenty of water and other liquids if you are consuming a lot of high-fiber foods. This may help prevent constipation you may experience when first starting a high-fiber diet.
  • Get your fiber from a variety of sources and not just a supplement. By adding different high-fiber foods to your diet, you are also getting additional nutrients that you would not obtain from taking a fiber supplement.
  • If you take medications, you should check to see if your fiber supplement could interact with them. In some cases, a fiber supplement may decrease the effectiveness of some drugs.

Summary

Fiber is an important part of a cholesterol-friendly diet. While it is possible to eat too much fiber, most Americans don't come close to consuming the recommended amount.

Eating too much fiber or quickly going from a low-fiber diet to a high-fiber diet can lead to uncomfortable side effects. Be sure to follow tips for how to avoid experiencing these.

Frequently Asked Questions

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Lipid Association. Adding soluble fiber to lower your cholesterol.

  2. Quagliani D, Felt-Gunderson P. Closing america's fiber intake gap: communication strategies from a food and fiber summitAm J Lifestyle Med. 2017;11(1):80-85. doi:10.1177/1559827615588079

  3. American Heart Association. Sound the fiber alarm! Most of us need more of it in our diet.

  4. National Institutes of Health. Rough up your diet.

  5. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. Dietary fiber.

  6. Akrami M, Sasani MR. Dietary Habits Affect Quality of Life: bowel obstruction caused by phytobezoar. Iran J Public Health. 2016;45(8):1080-1082.

  7. Harvard Health Publishing. Fiber-full eating for better health and lower cholesterol.

  8. Reynolds A, Mann J, Cummings J, Winter N, Mete E, Te Morenga L. Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analysesThe Lancet. 2019;393(10170):434-445. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31809-9

Additional Reading

By Jennifer Moll, PharmD
Jennifer Moll, MS, PharmD, is a pharmacist actively involved in educating patients about the importance of heart disease prevention.