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New ways to cut cholesterol.


For a while, it seemed like consumers couldn't get enough oat bran. But the new news is: There's more than one way to lower your blood cholestrol.

Besides oat bran, psyllium and rice bran are two other healthful fibers to add to your low-fat diet.

Psyllium (pronounced SIL-ee-yum) is a grain grown primarily in India. Its seeds are high in soluble fiber, the same type of fiber that earned oat bran nutritional acclaim.

Since the 1930s, American pharmaceutical companies have imported psyllium for use in over-the-counter bulk-formers. But last summer, researchers at the Univeristy of Minnesota reported that psyllium's effects to beyond treating constipation and bowel irregularity.

Seventy-five men and women with mild to moderate high blood cholesterol, mixed three teaspoons (about 10 grams) of psyllium with water as a daily supplement to their low-fat diets. After eight weeks, their levels of total blood cholesterol were reduced by 5 percent and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 8 percent. Levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which protects against heart disease, were not affected.

Thirty of the participants continued to take psyllium for a total of 16 weeks. Even though total and LDL cholesterol levels remained lower than those in the group who were not taking psyllium, cholesterol levels did begin to creep back toward their original levels.


If you have high blood cholesterol, trying psyllium may be reasonable if you're already doing all you can to lower the amount of fat you eat. In the Minnesota study, participants lowered their blood cholesterol with low-fat diets before supplementing them with psyllium. Some doctors believe psyllium is worth a try, in addition to a low-fat diet, before considering cholesterol-lowering drugs. Before using psyllium to lower your blood cholesterol, consider these caveats along with your doctor's advice:

* Psyllium will give you larger and perhaps more frequent stools. But the effect won't be any different from what you might expect if you suddenly started eating high-fiber foods.

* Psyllium can improve regularity if you already take a cholesterol-lowering drug, such as cholestyramine or colestipol, that tends to be constipating.

* Psyllium usually causes less bloating than cholestyramine. It also doesn't cause the flushing or indigestion common with niacin, another commonly prescribed drug for treating high blood cholesterol.

* Psyllium's effects eventually may diminish, as demonstrated in the 16-week Minnesota study. Researchers don't know whether you body adapts to a certain level of psyllium or whether it's necessary to take increasing amounts to keep your blood cholesterol in control.

* Although it's rare, a few people have severe allergic reactions to psyllium. Some of the most well-documented cases of psyllium allergy are in people who haven't eaten psyllium but have inhaled psyllium powder. This can happen, for example, as nurses prepare psyllium-containing medications for patients.

The symptoms of psyllium allergy are stuffy nose, itchy eyes, cough, or wheezing. Doctors use a skin or RAST test to confirm a psyllium allergy. Psyllium-sensitive people should read ingredient labels on foods and medications to avoid those that contain psyllium. Psyllium may also be called "ispaghul," a species of the psyllium plant.

You'll find psyllium in over-the-counter bulk-formers and some ready-to-eat breakfast cereals.

To improve regularity, the recommended dose for bulk-formers is up to three teaspoons a day. To get the same amount of soluble fiber from a psyllium-containing cereal, you would have to eat at least three bowls.


Rice bran is a newcomer to the fight against cholesterol. In animal studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, rice bran lowered cholesterol levels in hamsters to the same degree as oat bran did.

Preliminary reports from studies involving humans suggest rice bran has similar cholesterol-reducing action. In one unpublished study from Louisiana State University, researchers compared the effects of supplementing the diets of 11 people with rice bran vs. oat bran. Both grains equally lowered total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.

Rice bran's effects appear to have little to do with soluble fiber. Rice bran has half the soluble fiber of oat bran. Instead, researchers attribute rice bran's effects to the oil that occurs naturally within the bran. The oil may have a component that not only inhibits your body's absorption of cholesterol, but also may decrease the liver's production of cholesterol.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

(Makes 4 servings) 4 (about 1 pound) skinless and boneless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided 1 cup cooked brown rice (cooked in chicken broth) 1/4 cup finely diced fresh tomatoes 1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) finely shredded mozzarella cheese 3 tablespoons toasted rice bran 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 2 teaspoons olive oil

Season insides of pounded chicken breasts with salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Combine rice, tomatoes, cheese, bran, basil, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spoon rice mixture on top of chicken breasts; fold over and secure sides with wooden picks. Wipe off outsides of chicken breasts with paper towel. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook stuffed chicken breasts in hot oil 1 minute each side or until golden brown.

Transfer chicken to shallow baking pan. Bake at 350[degree] F. 8-10 minutes.

Zesty Prune 'n' Orange Muffins

(Makes 12 muffins) 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour 1 cup rice bran cereal 1/3 cup honey 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup skim milk 1/2 cup orange juice 1/2 cup finely chopped pitted prunes 1/4 cup vegetable oil 2 egg whites, lightly beaten 1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Preheat over to 400[degree] F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking cups, or coat bottoms only with cooking spray. Combine flour, rice bran, honey, baking powder, and salt in large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine remaining ingredients in small bowl; add to dry ingredients. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into prepared cups. Bake at 400[degree] F. 15-17 minutes. Remove from cups and cool on wire rack. Serve warm.

Sherried Black Bean Soup

(Makes 6 servings) 2 cans (16 ounces each) black beans, drained 1 cup each chopped onions, sliced celery, and diced carrots 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 cups chicken broth 1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies 1/2 cup rice bran 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper 1 tablespoon dry sherry 2 cups hot cooked brown rice 1/2 cup sliced green onions, including tops 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh tomatoes

Reserve 1 cup black beans. Puree remaining beans with 1 1/2 cups water in electric blender or food processor; set aside. Cook onions, celery, and carrots in oil until tender crisp. Add broth, chilies, rice bran, pepper, and whole and pureed beans. Simmer uncovered 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in sherry. Top each serving with 1/2 cup rice. Garnish with green onions and tomatoes.


(Makes 6 servings) 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 small onion, sliced and separated into rings 1 clove garlic, minced 2 cups cubed unpeeled eggplant 1 1/2 cups sliced tomatoes 1 cup sliced yellow squash 1 cup sliced zucchini 1 small green pepper, cut in strips 1 cup vegetable juice 1/3 cup rice bran 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon basil leaves 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oil in large skillet or Dutch over over medium-high heat. Cook onion and garlic in oil until soft and lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add eggplant, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and green pepper. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine vegetable juice, bran, cheese, oregano, basil, and black pepper; add to vegetables. Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat 5 to 8 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked.

Mini Bran Meat Loaves

(Makes 8 servings) 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef 1 1/4 cups rice bran 1 cup finely chopped onions 1/2 cup diced red pepper 1/2 cup snipped fresh parsley 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs 1/2 cup picante sauce 2 egg whites, lightly beaten 1 teaspoon lemon pepper 1 teaspoon seasoned salt Vegetable cooking spray

Coat eight 4" x 2" mini-loaf pans with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in large bowl; mix well. Divide mixture into pans. Bake at 350[degree] F. 30-35 minutes. Serve with picante sauce or ketchup, if desired.

To cook meat loaf in an 8" x 4" loaf pan, proceed as directed above and bake at 350[degree] 55-60 minutes.

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

(Makes 4 servings) 2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries, hulled 2 bananas, sliced 1 container (8 ounces) low-fat vanilla yogurt 1/2 cup skim milk 1/4 cup rice bran 1 to 2 tablespoons honey

Cover and freeze strawberries and sliced bananas until firm, about 4 hours or overnight. Combine strawberries, bananas, and remaining ingredients in container of electric blender; process until smooth. Serve immediately in chilled glasses.

Mushroom Rice Pilaf

(Makes 4 servings) 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms 1/2 cup sliced green onions, including tops 1/2 cup julienned fresh carrots 1/4 cup slivered almonds 2 cups cooked brown rice (cooked in beef broth) 1/4 cup rice bran 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add mushrooms, carrots, onions, and almonds; cook until vegetables are tender crisp. Stir in remaining ingredients and 1/4 cup water. Cook until thoroughly heated.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes and related article on rice bran products
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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