High intake of fibre in your diet reduces heart disease risk

By June Shannon Nutrition News   |   16th Jan 2019

New study shows significant benefits of a high fibre diet

People who eat a diet rich in fibre (at least 25 -29g or more a day) have a lower risk of developing a number of serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer, new research has found.

The study, by scientists in New Zealand, reviewed almost 40 years of research and found a 15 to 30 per cent decrease in deaths and incidence of these conditions, when comparing those who eat the highest amount of fibre with the lowest.

For every 1,000 participants in the studies, the eating higher amounts of fibre resulted in 13 fewer deaths and six fewer cases of coronary heart disease when compared to those consuming lower fibre diets.

Lead author of the study, Dr Andrew Reynolds from the University of Otago, New Zealand, said the results provided convincing evidence that we should increase our dietary fibre intake and replace refined grains with whole grains.

“Our research indicates we should have at least 25 to 29 grams of fibre from foods daily, although most of us currently consume less than 20 grams of fibre daily,” Dr Reynolds explained.

“Practical ways to increase fibre intake is to base meals and snacks around whole grains, vegetables, pulses and whole fruits,” he said.

“Our research indicates we should have at least 25 to 29 grams of fibre from foods daily, although most of us currently consume less than 20 grams of fibre daily,” Dr Reynolds explained.

Dr Reynolds, Lead Author, University of Ottago, New Zealand

The vast majority or 80 per cent of people in Ireland are not getting enough fibre in their diets.

It is recommended we should eat 24-35g of fibre a day. Two slices of wholemeal bread contain 5g of fibre. The recommended amount for children is their age plus 5g fibre per day. So, a five-year-old child should be getting 10 g a day (5 years + 5g of fibre).

Co-author of the study Professor Jim Mann, University of Otago, said the study findings were significant.

“While we all knew that dietary fibre was good for us, we didn’t know the extent to which the old mantra was true,” he said.

Professor Mann added that the study was unique in that it has examined a range of indicators of carbohydrate quality and many disease outcomes, whereas previous studies have generally looked at one indicator and a single or small number of diseases.

The researchers also found that people who increased the amount of fibre in their diet had lower bodyweight, and total cholesterol.

"The best way to know just how much fibre you are eating every day is to start by checking labels and looking at the ‘per serving’ column for fibre,"

Sarah Noone, Dietitian, Irish Heart Foundation

Commenting Ms Sarah Noone, Dietitian with the Irish Heart Foundation said, “This major scientific review was commissioned by the World Health Organisation to inform new recommendations on population dietary fibre intake. The review of clinical and observational studies provides compelling evidence that those with a higher dietary fibre intake (at least 25 -29g or more dietary fibre per day) have a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer than those with a lower dietary fibre intake.”

Sarah advised that the best way to know just how much fibre you are eating every day was to start by checking labels and looking at the ‘per serving’ column for fibre.

You can read more about fibre and your heart here.

The study was commissioned by the World Health Organization and published in the Lancet.

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