Many studies have examined the relationship between dietary fibre or fibre-rich foods and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors.
Cardiovascular diseases are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels including coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral arterial disease, rheumatic heart disease, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Coronary heart disease refers to disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle and includes angina and heart attack.
Researchers at the University of Leeds reviewed literature published since 1990 in healthy populations concerning dietary fibre intake and CVD risk. They looked at the following: total fibre, insoluble fibre (whole grains, potato skins etc.), soluble fibre (legumes, nuts, oats, barley etc.), cereal, fruit, vegetable and other sources.
Results from analyses of total, insoluble, fruit and vegetable fibres intake showed that the likelihood of a CVD or coronary heart disease (CHD) event steadily lowers with increasing intake.
In soluble fibre, a higher reduction was seen in CVD risk than CHD risk and for cereal fibre, the reduced risk of CHD was stronger than the association with CVD.
A significantly lower risk of both CVD and CHD was observed with every additional 7 gram per day of fibre consumed. An additional 7g of fibre can be achieved through one serving of whole grains (found in bread, cereal, rice, pasta) plus a serving of beans/lentils or two to four servings of fruit and vegetables.
The researchers conclude that diets high in fibre, specifically from cereal or vegetable sources are significantly associated with lower risk of CHD and CVD and reflect current recommendations to increase intake. Greater intake from fruit fibre was associated with lower CVD risk.
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