If you're like most Americans, you likely consume less than the recommended amount of fiber each day. Nonetheless, health experts recommend people to include more fiber in their diet for its health benefits. Consuming fiber-rich foods, for instance, can lower bad cholesterol levels in the blood which could lead to stroke and heart diseases.
It also appears that fiber does not just benefit those who want to reduce their risks for cardiovascular diseases. A new study suggests that heart attack survivors who want to live longer can also benefit from adding more fiber to their diet.
In a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) April 29, researchers followed 1,840 men and 2,258 women who survived their first heart attack. The participants also completed questionnaires about their usual diet and were followed for about nine years after their first attack. During this period, more than 1,000 of the participants died.
The researchers observed that the participants who consumed the most fiber had 27 percent less chances of dying during the study period than the participants who consumed the least amount of fiber. The researchers also observed that consuming fiber from grains statistically reduced the participants' risks for death.
"Higher post-MI fiber intake was significantly associated with lower all cause mortality," the researchers wrote. "Greater intake of cereal fiber was more strongly associated with all cause mortality than were other sources of dietary fiber."
The researchers, however, noted that the findings of their study did not prove that fiber in itself can prolong the life of heart attack survivors as there may be differences between those who eat high-fiber foods and those who only consume little fiber.
Still, study researcher Eric Rimm, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, said that heart attack survivors should consider eating more fiber-rich foods as well as aim for high quality diet composed of plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
The U.S. Food and Drug recommends consuming 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day. Most Americans, however, do not consume half of this amount. Besides heart attack survivors, people with diabetes and those who want to achieve healthier weight can benefit from high-fiber diet.