Increasing Dietary Fiber Decreases Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases

Matengo Chwanya's picture

Here is another reason to get into the habit of eating fiber-rich foods; they lower your probability of developing cardiovascular diseases.

What Are Fibers?

Fibers are the indigestible portions of plant foods. Fiber is a general term for different compounds, including pectin, cellulose, lignin, mucilage and gum.  Fibers can be found in vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains, but not in animal products.

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Fibers can be water soluble or insoluble, and fibers exert different effects on the body. Fibers are often associated with facilitating bowel movements, but as you will come to see at the end of this article, there’s more to fibers.

According to a secondary analysis of data drawn from America’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), people who consumed more fibers in their diet had the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases drop by 7%.

Published in the American Journal of Medicine, the study also shows that many Americans are consuming far less dietary fiber than is recommended, and one of its purpose is to highlight this discrepancy.

NHANES is Scrutinized

NHANES is a countrywide survey that has been operational since the 1960s, gathering health related information that has been used to shape public health policies within the USA. It is operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On average, a representative population of 5,000 people is examined annually to determine prevalence or risk factors for diseases, such as the cardiovascular ailments that are our focus today.

In this study, the researchers used data from 23,168 people who had taken part in NHANES surveys between 1999 and 2010. Their information was used to determine whether a correlation existed between the intake of dietary fiber and cardiometabolic diseases.

Low Dietary Fiber, Higher Risk

It was found that those who consumed less dietary fibers had a higher probability of developing metabolic syndrome, obesity, inflammation and cardiovascular diseases. Previous studies have shown that fibers lower blood pressure and the levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), which is a leading culprit in many cardiac or vascular problems.

 It was also realized that the consumption of fibers varied across the races and socio-economic classes.

People Are Not Eating Enough Fibers

It is probable that the results would have been better if people consumed the recommended amounts of fibers.  The data showed that Americans on average consumed 16.2g of fiber daily, whereas the recommended minimum level is 38g a day for a male aged 19-50 years. A woman within the same age bracket is expected to consume at least 25g a day. Males older than 50 years are advised to consume 30g of fiber a day, while women past 50 are supposed to consume about 21g a day.

In other words, taken as a whole, the American population is missing out on a rather simple method to improve their health. This realization made the researchers call for better ways to ensure that the general public is informed about the importance of making the consumption of dietary fibers a cornerstone of every meal.

Other Benefits of Fibers

Fibers have been shown to reduce the risk of suffering a first-time stroke. According to the researchers who came to this conclusion following another secondary analysis of NHANES data, every 87g increase in total dietary fiber decreased the probability of suffering a stroke by 7%.

Fibers have also been shown to be capable of fighting cancers. In a research conducted by the University of Colorado Cancer Center, a component of fiber was found to be capable of stymieing further progression of prostate cancer in animal models. It’s also believed to play a similar role in colon cancer, but new research suggests that there’s a lot to be done before one comes with conclusive evidence insofar as colon cancer is concerned.

Simple Tips to Control Irritable Bowel Syndrome

In Other Words

Modulate the carnivore in you; pick out more fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains. These foods also possess other benefits aside from providing fibers, and I can’t comprehensively write them down within this space. In all likelihood, you are eating far less fiber than you should be, so increase your consumption.


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