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Fiber May Cut Heart Risk for Diabetes Patients

Fiber Supplement Study continued...

The findings show "clear beneficial effects" in all categories measured, say the researchers. The heart disease risk factors of the participants improved. Heart disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related death, according to the AHA.

Here are the before-and-after results:

  • Average total cholesterol: 215 mg/dL before; 184 mg/dL after (14% decrease)
  • Average triglycerides: 299 mg/dL before; 257 mg/dL after (14% decrease)
  • Average LDL cholesterol: 129 mg/dL before; 92 mg/dL after (29% decrease)
  • Average HDL cholesterol: 43 mg/dL before; 55 mg/dL after (22% increase)

The added supplement resulted in improved and near target levels of the participants' blood cholesterol profile.

"With a normal pharmaceutical intervention, you see a decrease in LDL but not an increase in HDL to these levels," says Verdegem in a news release. "It is usually only a one-sided effect."

In the news release, Verdegem says the study demonstrates that dietary fiber supplements may be an alternative to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs for people with moderately high cholesterol who are unable or unwilling to take statins.

Food Sources of Fiber

Want to increase your fiber intake through food? Here is some information on the total dietary fiber content for several plant-based foods:

  • One large apple with skin: 3.7 grams
  • One banana: 2.8 grams
  • Five prunes: 3 grams
  • One pear: 4 grams
  • Canned kidney beans (half cup): 4.5 grams
  • Cooked lentils (half cup): 7.8 grams
  • Iceberg lettuce (one cup, shredded): 0.8 grams
  • Raw broccoli (half cup): 1.3 grams
  • Whole-wheat bread (one slice): 1.9 grams
  • White bread (one slice): 0.6 grams
  • Raisin bran (one cup): 7.5 grams
  • Wheat bran flakes (three quarters of a cup): 4.6 grams
  • Brown rice (one cup, cooked): 3.5 grams
  • Mixed nuts (one ounce, dry roasted): 2.6 grams

The ADA published those values in the July 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The federal government's new "My Pyramid" guidelines also emphasize fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Fiber in the Real-World

How might those numbers translate into daily life?

Let's say you had raisin bran and a banana at breakfast, an ounce of nuts and an apple as snacks, a sandwich with two slices of whole-wheat bread at lunch, and a dinner salad with iceberg lettuce, raw broccoli, and kidney beans. That would give you 27 grams of fiber for the day.

Add some veggies to the sandwich (lettuce and tomato count) and choose a healthy entrée at dinner, and your fiber intake is even higher, without any supplements.

WebMD Health News

Reviewed by John A. Seibel, MD on August 27, 2009
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