Even small increases in the amount of daily fiber can lower the risk of both cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, new research suggests.
“It has previously been difficult to demonstrate the long-term influence of diet on heart attacks or strokes,” says Victoria Burley from the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds. “For the first time, our research has shown the long-term benefits, even with quite small increases in fiber intake.”
In recent years, a decline in both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD) has been seen in some European countries and the United States. But it still remains a significant issue accounting for almost half (48 percent) and a third (34 percent) of all deaths in Europe and the United States.
Many studies have examined the relationship between dietary fiber or fiber-rich foods and CVD risk factors, such as high blood pressure and raised blood cholesterol.
In the new study published in BMJ, researchers reviewed literature published since 1990 in healthy populations concerning dietary fiber intake and CVD risk, taking data from six electronic databases in the US, Europe, Japan, and Australia.
They observed a significantly lower risk of both CVD and CHD with every additional seven grams per day of fiber consumed.
That amount of fiber can be achieved through one portion of whole grains (found in bread, cereal, rice, and pasta) plus two to four servings of fruit and vegetables or a portion of beans or lentils.
“Although the Department of Health has encouraged people to eat high fiber foods since the early 1990s, most people in the UK are still not getting anywhere near enough dietary fiber,” Burley says. “Hopefully our findings will show how even a small change to your diet can greatly improve your health.”
Source: University of Leeds