Dietary fiber reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.




American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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There are many risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Three that cannot be changed are older age, male gender, and a family history of CVD. Additionally, three other major risk factors include cigarette smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Other identified factors associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease include lack of exercise, diabetes, obesity, too much alcohol, increased homocysteine levels, certain infections and inflammation, estrogens, androgens, and certain psychosocial factors. The combination of multiple risk factors must also be considered.

Treatment consists of a wide variety of interventions from life style changes to surgery. Generally, if an individual has no evidence of cardiovascular disease, but has one or more known risk factors for the development of heart disease, a plan for risk reduction should be developed and implemented. This may include dietary restrictions, smoking cessation, weight loss, or other life-style modifications. The individual should be reevaluated at intervals to assess compliance, and see whether risk factors are actually being reduced.

The Food and Drug Administration approved health claims that stated that dietary fibers could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, specifically beta-glucan and psyllium. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition assessed the effectiveness of the doses suggested by the FDA. This investigation recruited 68 hyperlipidemic (high blood fat) adults. In this study the individuals ate a high-fiber diet and a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet for one month each. The high-fiber diet contained 8 g of beta-glucan or psyllium per day. The food in the low-fat diet (control diet) did not contain any supplemented foods. At baseline, 2 and 4 weeks, blood pressure and blood samples were taken. The results showed that after both diets, there was a small reduction in blood pressure. But when compared to the control diet, the high-fiber diet significantly reduced total cholesterol, total and HDL cholesterol ratios, as well as LDL and HDL cholesterol ratios. In conclusion, this study supported the health claim that dietary fiber can help reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease.1


1. Soluble fiber intake at a dose approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for a claim of health benefits: serum lipid risk factors for cardiovascular disease assessed in a randomized controlled crossover trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 75, No. 5, 834-839, May 2002.