Eating More Fiber Lowers Stroke Risk

New study results reinforce the importance of a diet that includes at least 25 grams of fiber daily.

(BHL) Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the US, killing more than 137,000 people annually. Among survivors, the disease is a leading cause of disability. Now, a new study, finds that each seven-gram increase in total daily fiber intake is associated with a 7 percent decrease in first-time stroke risk.

Dietary fiber is the part of the plant that the body doesn’t absorb during digestion. Fiber can be soluble, which means it dissolves in water, or insoluble. One serving of whole wheat pasta, plus two servings of fruits or vegetables, provides about 7 grams of fiber, researchers said.

Previous research has also shown that dietary fiber may help reduce risk factors for stroke, including high blood pressure and high blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol.

“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, M.Sc., of the University of Leeds in the UK.

Researchers analyzed eight studies published between 1990-2012. Studies reported on all types of stroke with four specifically examining the risk of ischemic stroke, which occurs when a clot blocks a blood vessel to the brain. Three assessed hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel bleeds into the brain or on its surface.

The average daily fiber intake among U.S. adults is lower than the recommendation of at least 25 grams per day. Six to eight servings of grains and eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables can provide the recommended amount. Today Americans are getting an average of just 13 g for women and 17 g for men compared with the 21 to 25 g and 30 to 38 g, respectively, called for by guidelines.