Dr Victoria Burley, from the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds and senior author of the study, said: “It has previously been difficult to demonstrate the long-term influence of diet on heart attacks or strokes. For the first time, our research has shown the long-term benefits, even with quite small increases in fibre intake.”
In recent years, a decline in both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD) has been seen in some European countries and the United States. However, it still remains a significant issue accounting for almost half (48%) and a third (34%) of all deaths in Europe and the United States.
Many studies have examined the relationship between dietary fibre or fibre-rich foods and CVD risk factors, such as high blood pressure and raised blood cholesterol.
In the new study, the researchers reviewed literature published since 1990 in healthy populations concerning dietary fibre intake and CVD risk, taking data from six electronic databases in the US, Europe, Japan and Australia.
They observed a significantly lower risk of both CVD and CHD with every additional 7g per day of fibre consumed. An additional 7g of fibre can be achieved through one portion of wholegrains (found in bread, cereal, rice, pasta) plus two to four servings of fruit and vegetables or a portion of beans or lentils.
“Although the Department of Health has encouraged people to eat high fibre foods since the early 1990s, most people in the UK are still not getting anywhere near enough dietary fibre,” said Dr Burley. “Hopefully our findings will show how even a small change to your diet can greatly improve your health.”
This research adds to the growing body of work showing the health benefits of eating more fibre. Earlier this year, the same research team showed that an increase in fibre intake may lower the risk of a first-time stroke
The new study was published online by the journal BMJ
Dr Victoria Burley is available for interview. Please contact Sarah Reed, Press Officer, University of Leeds on 0113 343 4031 or email firstname.lastname@example.org