What increases your risk of heart disease, obesity, and metabolic syndrome? Low dietary intake of fiber – and that’s preventable. A recent study published in The American Journal of Medicine analyzed the dietary intake of 23,168 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999-2010 and its effect on heart health and concluded that fiber prevents heart disease.
Here’s why fiber prevents heart disease. Dietary fiber helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol reducing risk for cardiovascular disease. Despite this knowledge dietary fiber among the participants of the NHANES was consistently below recommended intake. The daily intake of fiber in the study was only 16.2 g daily far below the recommend intake shown below. Fiber also absorbs toxins secreted in bile that passes through the gastrointestinal tract.
Are You Getting Enough Fiber?
Adequate dietary fiber intake varies based on gender and age.
- 38 g of fiber daily is recommended for men ages 19-50.
- 30 g of fiber daily is recommended for men over age 50.
- 25 g of fiber daily is recommended for women ages 19-50.
- 21 g of fiber daily is recommended for women over age 50.
The study showed that with increasing quartiles of dietary fiber the prevalence of inflammation, obesity, and metabolic syndrome decreased. Mexican-Americans had higher consumption of fiber while non-Hispanic blacks consumed the lowest amounts of dietary fiber.
Fiber is indigestible carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables, whole grain, and legumes. Fiber has no nutritional value and is not available to be used as energy.
Fiber slows the movement of food through the GI tract and reduces hunger. It adds bulk to stools and limits the number of calories absorbed through the GI tract. All of this has positive health effects.
Prepackaged foods are generally void of fiber. Though fiber supplements are available they are comprised of one or two types of fibers. The best way to increase your intake of dietary fiber is to eat more foods naturally high in fiber content such fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Fortify your heart against disease by consuming more fiber in your diet.