(NaturalNews) Nutrition researchers from Northwestern Medicine in Chicago report that a diet naturally high in fiber provides critical protection from heart disease in a study of adults aged 20 to 59 years. Results presented to the American Heart Association`s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Scientific Sessions draws the direct correlation between fiber consumption and heart disease risk. This is the first study to establish the connection between dietary fiber and lifetime cardiovascular disease risk in adults up to age 59. High-fiber diets have long been associated with weight loss, reduced cholesterol levels and improved hypertension. Experts now recommend a minimum of 25 grams of fiber each day to dramatically lower heart disease risk.
The study consisted of an analysis of questionnaires compiled as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by lead author Dr. Hongyan Ning. A nationally diverse group of 11,000 adults were questioned for factors including diet, blood pressure, total cholesterol, smoking status and history of diabetes and then used to formulate a lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease. Body weight, cholesterol and hypertension are considered to be primary determinants of long-term risk for heart disease, and combined they can be used to provide an accurate risk assessment.
Dr. Ning found the results to be quite amazing, and noted that "younger (20 to 39 years) and middle-aged (40 to 59 years) adults with the highest fiber intake, compared to those with the lowest fiber intake, showed a statistically significant lower lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease."
In this study, 25 grams or more fiber each day was found to provide the most protection against heart disease
. Processed foods, even if promoted as high-fiber, were determined to be high in sodium and calories and did not provide the same degree of protection when compared to fiber obtained from fresh fruits and vegetables.
Interestingly, the study found that fiber consumption did not affect the long-term risk
of heart disease among the senior group aged 60 to 79 years. Researchers believe that the beneficial effects of a high-fiber diet may require a long time to achieve, and older adults may have already developed advanced disease risk factors requiring more intense natural interventions (vitamin D and omega-3 fat optimization) to correct.
Dr. Ning said "As for young and middle-aged adults, now is the time to start making fiber a big part of your daily diet."
She concluded "the study suggests that starting a high-fiber diet now may help improve your long-term risk."
Some research has indicated that optimal disease risk reduction is attained with a daily fiber intake between 40 and 50 grams. It`s important to ensure that the fiber in your diet comes mostly from raw vegetables, nuts and seeds (including flaxseeds, almonds and walnuts) with minimal amounts from fruit and whole grains to maximize your protection against cardiovascular disease.
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