Eating More Fiber Reduces Stroke Risk
Current dietary guidelines in the US recommend eating at least 21 grams of fiber per day for women and 30 grams for men. However, the average American consumes much less than these, as surveys show that most women eat an average of just 13 g for women and 17 g for men.
Diane Threapleton, MSc, of the University of Leeds, England, and colleagues conducted a literature search that involved eight prospective cohort studies from different countries including the U.S., northern Europe, Australia, and Japan, which looked into the fiber intake of healthy individuals and the incidence of first stroke. They report that for every additional 7 grams of daily fiber intake they observed a significant 7% lower risk of hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke combined.
The authors state that their results support current dietary guidelines, and call for a 7-g boost of fiber consumption per day in every individual to gain benefits. They believe this is doable, because it only means including an extra serving of cooked beans or two more servings of fruits like oranges and apple to one’s daily diet.
Previous studies have shown that eating more fiber is associated with improvement of stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fibers slow down the rate of nutrient absorption and gastric emptying, thus increasing the feeling of fullness and reducing over-all food intake. With the help of good bacteria, fermentation of soluble fibers and resistant starches in the gut produces short-chain fatty acids, which help reduce serum cholesterol levels.
The authors note that the link between fiber intake and reduced stroke risk may also be related to other healthy behaviors, such as smoking less and exercising more, which are often done by people who also eat more fiber to maintain health, that would also reduce their risk for stroke.
Phend, C. Dietary Fiber Nibbles Down Stroke Risk. MedPage Today.