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Fiber Reduces Stroke Risk

By on April 28, 2013
Assortment of High Fiber Foods

You probably already knew that people who consume more fiber are less likely to have a stroke than those who skimp on their fiber intake. But now researchers have proven it for you.

“A few people in the past have looked at the relationship between fiber and cardiovascular disease, which includes coronary heart disease and stroke,” senior author Victoria Burley said but this is the first time all the available results from long-term studies have been pulled together into one analysis. 

Burley is a senior lecturer in nutritional epidemiology at the University of Leeds in the UK. She and her coauthors pooled the results of eight studies conducted since 1990 that included close to 500,000 participants. Those people reported on their dietary fiber consumption and were followed for anywhere from eight to 19 years.

The researchers found the risk of suffering a first stroke fell by 7 percent for every 7-gram increase in dietary fiber people reported each day – so that those who ate the most fiber had the lowest chance of stroke, according to findings published in the journal Stroke.

The average U.S. woman gets 13 grams of fiber per day, and the average man gets 17 grams – well below the Institute of Medicine recommendation of 24 and 35 grams, respectively.

Foods high in fiber tend to be low-calorie and help people maintain a healthy weight, which reduces stroke risk, she said. Fibrous foods also have vitamins, minerals and antioxidants including polyphenols and flavonoids, which make blood vessels more elastic. And just so you know, the foods rich in fiber include raspberries, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, barley, lentils, black beans, and apples to name a few.

The findings should serve as more encouragement for people to get their daily recommended fiber, Burley said. She’d like to see fiber back on the agenda – since it sometimes falls to the wayside in low-carbohydrate or gluten-free diets.

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