People who get more fibre in their diet are less likely to have a stroke than those who don't eat enough, according to a new review of existing research.
This is the first report to look at all the available results from long-term and pull them together into one analysis.
The U.K. researchers pooled the results of eight studies conducted since 1990 that included close to 500,000 participants. Those people reported on their dietary fibre consumption and were followed for anywhere from eight to 19 years.
They found the risk of suffering a first stroke fell by 7 percent for every 7-gram increase in dietary fibre people reported each day (found in about ¼ cup of 100% bran cereal or 2 apples). Those who ate the most fibre had the lowest chance of stroke.
The average Canadian consumes between 11 and 14 grams of fibre each day, well below the Institute of Medicine recommendation of 25 grams for women aged 19 to 50 and 38 grams for men.
The report didn't look at the effects of different types of fibre on people of specific ages - so it's possible some may glean more benefit from eating extra fibre than others, he added.
The findings don't prove fibre directly prevents strokes. Researchers also don't know why fibre would be linked to a lower risk, although they have some ideas.
Foods high in fibre tend to be low-calorie and help people maintain a healthy weight, which reduces stroke risk. Fibrous foods also have vitamins, minerals and antioxidants including polyphenols and flavonoids, which make blood vessels more elastic.
Source: Stroke, online March 28, 2013.
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