Fiber Intake Lowers Death Risk

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WASHINGTON – Dietary fiber tends to lower death risk from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases, a study conducted over a nine-year period says.

Fiber from edible plants is known to ease bowel movements, reduce blood cholesterol levels, improve blood glucose levels, lower blood pressure, promote weight loss and reduce inflammation, among other benefits.

Yikyung Park of the National Cancer Institute, US, and colleagues analyzed data from 219,123 men and 168,999 women in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study, the journal Archives of Internal Medicine reports.

Participants completed a food frequency questionnaire at the beginning of the study in 1995 and 1996. Causes of death were determined by linking study records to national registries, according to a Cancer Institute statement.

Their fiber intake ranged from 13 to 29 grams per day in men and from 11 to 26 grams per day in women. Over an average of nine years of follow-up, 20,126 men and 11,330 women died.

Fiber intake was associated with a significantly decreased risk of death in both men and women.

The one-fifth of men and women consuming the most fiber (29.4 grams per day for men and 25.8 grams for women) were 22 percent less likely to die than those consuming the least (12.6 grams per day for men and 10.8 grams for women).

The risk of cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases was reduced by 24 percent to 56 percent in men and 34 percent to 59 percent in women with high fiber intakes.

Dietary fiber from grains, but not from fruits, was associated with reduced risks of total, cardiovascular, cancer and respiratory disease deaths in men and women.