Date Published: 20 December 2013
Research indicates greater intake of dietary fibre is correlated with lower risk of heart disease
Researchers in nutrition and food science at Leeds University (Yorkshire, England) have demonstrated greater intake of dietary fibre (which used to be known as 'roughage') is associated with a lower risk of both cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. It is worth noting that there are many different types of heart problems, which are associated with various heart disease risk factors - including, but not only, related to diet and nutrition.
According to Dr Victoria Burley, senior author of the recent study at Leeds University:
"It has previously been difficult to demonstrate the long-term influence of diet on heart attacks or strokes. For the first time, our research has shown the long-term benefits, even with quite small increases in fibre intake."
Many studies have considered the relationship between dietary fibre or fibre-rich foods and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, such as high blood pressure and raised blood cholesterol. Advice resulting from such studies might or might not have contributed to the welcome decline in both CVD and coronary heart disease (CHD) in the USA as wells as in some European countries in recent years. Nevertheless these conditions remain significant health issues accounting for almost half (48%) and a third (34%) of all deaths in Europe and the United States, respectively.
In the recent study at Leeds University, researchers reviewed literature published since 1990 in healthy populations concerning dietary fibre intake and CVD risk, using 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 7g per day of fibre consumed.
An additional 7g of fibre can be achieved through one portion of wholegrains (found in bread, cereal, rice, pasta) plus two to four servings of fruit and vegetables or a portion of beans or lentils. Even thought is would seem easy to include this in a normal healthy diet, the authors of the study note that many people in the UK consume insufficient dietary fibre.
"Although the Department of Health has encouraged people to eat high fibre foods since the early 1990s, most people in the UK are still not getting anywhere near enough dietary fibre," said Dr Burley. "Hopefully our findings will show how even a small change to your diet can greatly improve your health."
In short, this study contributes to the increasing body of research that demonstrates the health benefits of eating more fibre.
Ref. to Paper:
Diane E Threapleton, Darren C Greenwood et.al., "Dietary fibre intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis," is published online by the journal BMJ, BMJ 2013;347:f6879 (URL: http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f6879) on 19 Dec.
University, England (UK)