Teenagers who eat plenty of fibre-rich foods, such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains, are less likely to have risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, a new study shows.
But there was no link between those risk factors -- known collectively as metabolic syndrome -- and how much saturated fat or cholesterol kids ate.
A person is thought to have metabolic syndrome if he or she has a large waist circumference plus two or more of the following: high blood triglycerides (blood fat), high blood pressure, elevated fasting blood glucose and low HDL (good) cholesterol. Having metabolic syndrome increases a person's risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
That doesn't give teens the green light to eat fatty foods, however. It's clear a high intake of saturated fat and trans fat can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol in the bloodstream.
A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains also delivers vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
The research team examined the diets of over 2,000 American teens aged 12 to 19. They also tested whether the teens had three or more conditions that make up metabolic syndrome.
Overall, about six percent of the teens had metabolic syndrome. Of those who ate the least fibre (less than 3 grams per 1,000 calories), nine percent had the risk factors, compared to only three percent of those who ate the most fibre (11 grams or more per 1,000 calories).
While the study can't prove that fibre itself was responsible for that difference, the findings concur with current dietary guidelines recommending a high-fibre diet to help lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
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