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Fiber-Rich Fruits and Cereals Protect Heart

Adding two to three servings of high-fiber fruit or cereal could provide powerful protection for your heart.
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WebMD Health News

Feb. 23, 2004 -- Adding two to three servings of high-fiber fruit or cereal could provide powerful protection for your heart.

A new study shows that for each 10 grams of fiber eaten per day, you can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease death by 27% and coronary heart disease by 14%.

A serving of bran cereal (3/4 cup) and a pear each contain about 5 grams of fiber. A similar-sized serving of cooked oatmeal and an apple have about 3 grams of fiber each.

Researchers say that although many studies have shown that eating a high-fiber diet can lower the risk of heart disease, few have looked at the relationship between different sources of dietary fiber and heart disease.

In this study, researchers found that fiber from cereals and fruits had a significant effect on lowering heart disease risks, but vegetable fiber didn't appear to any protective effects. Their findings are based on an analysis of 10 previous studies on fiber and heart disease, which involved 91,058 men and 245,186 women in the U.S. and Europe.

Fruits and Cereals Fight Heart Disease

Researchers say dietary fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease in a variety of ways, such as improving cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, and improving insulin sensitivity.

The study, published in the Feb. 23 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine, shows that for every 10 gram per day increase in overall fiber consumed, there was a 14% reduction in the risk of heart attacks and 27% lower risk of coronary heart disease death.

Researchers say those results back current recommendations to eat a diet that includes an abundance of high-fiber foods to prevent heart disease.

According to the American Dietetic Association, Americans should eat 20-35 grams of fiber each day, but the average American currently eats only 12-17 grams of fiber a day.

Although overall fiber consumption was associated with a reduced risk of death from coronary heart disease, researchers say the associations were stronger for cereal and fruit fiber, with a 25% reduction in risk for each 10-gram increment per day of cereal fiber and a 30% reduction in risk for each 10-gram increment per day of fruit fiber.

Researchers say one possible explanation for the lack of a link between vegetable fiber and lower heart disease risk may be that some vegetables, such as corn and peas, are starchy and often heavily processed, which reduces their nutrient content. In addition, some of the studies included potatoes -- a very starchy vegetable -- in their vegetable fiber analysis.

Researchers say starchy vegetables can have cause a jump in blood sugar levels that has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

"Therefore, any protective effect of vegetable fiber may be countered by some adverse effects of starchy vegetables," writes researcher Mark A. Pereira, PhD, of Harvard University

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