Heart : Yes, It Is True: Dietary Fiber Reduces Heart Disease



By Michael T. Murray, ND

There is considerable scientific evidence linking many health conditions to a lack of dietary fiber especially a number of factors that lead to heart disease such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol levels. A new analysis of 18 studies involving over 670,000 subjects provides even more details on the importance of eating a high fiber diet to prevent against heart attacks and strokes.

Background Data:

Much of the focus on the heart health benefits of dietary fiber has focused on the soluble fiber type found in vegetables, fruit, legumes, and oats while the insoluble fiber found in grains like wheat have shown beneficial effects on digestive tract health.

Soluble dietary fiber helps prevent heart disease in a number of important ways, including helping to fight weight gain and improve insulin sensitivity, lowering cholesterol, and assisting in eliminating toxic dietary and environmental compounds.

New Data:

Researchers sought to better understand the association between coronary heart disease (CHD) and dietary fiber intake by examining the results from 18 studies involving 672,408 individuals. From this data, they were able to assess the impact of different types of dietary fiber, as well as a dose-response relationship.

Results indicate that dietary fiber from fruit intake offered the greatest impact on reducing CHD mortality. Higher fruit fiber intake reduced CHD mortality by 32 percent.

Commentary:

Foods rich in dietary fiber are also rich in a great number of other beneficial compounds that fight heart disease including plant antioxidants, magnesium, and potassium. In particular, fruits that are rich in plant flavonoids exert benefits in protecting the lining of blood vessels and the prevention of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The flavonoid components are likely more important in protecting against CHD than the fiber.

Here are some key dietary recommendations to help fight heart disease:
  • Increase the consumption of a wide variety fiber-rich plant foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and raw nuts and seeds).
  • Eat two servings of high flavonoid fruit each day (berries, cherries, citrus, grapes, etc.).
  • Eat less saturated fat and cholesterol by reducing or eliminating the amounts of animal products in the diet.
  • Increase the consumption of monounsaturated fats (e.g., nuts, seeds, and olive oil) and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Follow a low-glycemic diet.
For a complete discussion on natural approaches to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease, please download a FREE PDF version of my book on Cholesterol and Heart Health.


Dr. Michael T. Murray is one of the world's leading authorities on natural medicine and the author of more than 30 bestselling books, including The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. He is a graduate and former faculty member, and serves on the Board of Regents, of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.

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