More support for dietary fiber reducing CV, all-cause death

Posted by: admin on: April 18, 2011

Providing further support for the recommendation to eat plenty of dietary fiber, a new large prospective cohort study shows that fiber intake is associated with a significantly reduced risk of total death, including cardiovascular mortality and deaths from infectious and respiratory diseases [1].

In the study, which included 30 000 deaths over nine years of follow-up, subjects in the highest quintile for consumption of fiber were 22% less likely to die than those in the lowest quintile, Dr Yikung Park (National Cancer Institute, Rockville, MD) and colleagues report online February 14, 2011 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. “Prior studies have focused on the relationship between fiber intake and CVD, but few have examined the link between dietary fiber and mortality. “Our analysis adds to the literature and suggests dietary fiber intake is also associated with decreased likelihood of death.”

In an accompanying commentary [2], Drs Lawrence de Koning and Frank B Hu (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA) say the “careful control for confounding” performed by Park et al “enhances the validity of these findings and supports the hypothesis that dietary fiber is important for longevity.”

Park and colleagues agree: “The 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans recommend choosing fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains frequently and consuming 14 g [of dietary fiber per] 1000 calories. A diet rich in dietary fiber from whole plant foods may provide significant health benefits,” they say.

Benefit comes from whole grains

The researchers examined dietary-fiber intake in relation to mortality from specific causes in the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-AARP Diet and Health prospective cohort study. Diet was assessed at baseline using a food-frequency questionnaire, and cause of death was identified using the National Death Index Plus.

During an average of nine years follow-up, there were 20 126 deaths among men and 11 330 among women. Eating fiber also lowered the risk of death from cardiovascular,

infectious, and respiratory diseases by 24% to 56% in men and by 34% to 59% in women.
Do whole grains act to reduce inflammation? Further research needed

The editorialists add that the finding of a strong inverse association between fiber intake and cardiovascular death “supports decades of research indicating that dietary fiber protects against cardiovascular disease and its risk factors,” including lowering blood pressure and reducing cholesterol.

But de Koning and Hu say that the “most striking finding” of the new study “is an inverse association between fiber intake and death from infectious and respiratory diseases”; this was “the strongest association observed by Park and colleagues, [who] suggest the benefit of dietary fiber is attributable to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of whole-grain components,” they note.

Park et al concur: “Further studies are needed to replicate our finding on the association between dietary fiber intake and risk of death from infectious and respiratory disease. And more studies are needed to understand the role of fiber in reducing inflammation and the mechanisms by which it protects against disease and risk of death,” they conclude.



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