Eating more fibre may decrease your risk of first-time stroke, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
Dietary fibre is the part of the plant that the body doesn't absorb during digestion. Fibre can be soluble, which means it dissolves in water, or insoluble.
Previous research has shown that dietary fibre may help reduce risk factors for stroke, including high blood pressure and high blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) "bad" cholesterol.
In the new study, researchers found that each 7-gram increase in total daily fibre intake was associated with a 7 percent decrease in first-time stroke risk. Seven grams of fibre is the amount found in 2 small apples, 1 baked potato with skin, 1 cup of cooked whole wheat spaghetti or ¼ cup of 100% bran cereal.
The researchers analyzed eight studies published between 1990-2012. Studies reported on all types of stroke with four specifically examining the risk of ischemic stroke, which occurs when a clot blocks a blood vessel to the brain. Three assessed hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel bleeds into the brain or on its surface.
The results were based on total dietary fibre. Researchers did not find an association with soluble fibre and stroke risk, and lacked enough data on insoluble fibre to make any conclusions.
The average daily fibre intake among North Americans is 14 grams per day, half of what is recommended. Women aged 19 to 50 require 25 grams of fibre daily; men need 38 grams. Older women and men should get 21 and 30 grams, respectively. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts are higher fibre food choices.
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