DALLAS — Eating more fiber may lower the risk of a first-time stroke, according to new research from the American Heart Association.
In a study funded by the U.K. Department of Health for England and Kellogg Marketing and Sales Company (U.K.) Ltd, researchers found that each 7-gram increase in total dietary fiber intake was associated with a 7% decrease in first-time stroke risk. A serving of whole wheat pasta and two servings of fruits or vegetables delivers about 7 grams of fiber, according to the research.
“Greater intake of fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts, are important for everyone, and especially for those with stroke risk factors like being overweight, smoking and having high blood pressure,” said Diane Threapleton, study co-author and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Leeds’ School of Food Science and Nutrition in Leeds, United Kingdom.
Researchers examined eight observational studies published between 1990 and 2012 that reported on all stroke types. Findings accounted for other stroke risk factors, such as age and smoking. Results were based on total dietary fiber, rather than soluble or insoluble fiber.
The American Heart Association recommends a daily fiber intake of at least 25 grams, which may be provided by 6 to 8 servings of grains and 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables.
“Most people do not get the recommended level of fiber, and increasing fiber may contribute to lower risk for strokes,” Ms. Threapleton said. “We must educate consumers on the continued importance of increasing fiber intake and help them learn how to increase fiber in their diet.”
In the United States, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, claiming more than 137,000 lives a year.