Eating plenty of fiber not only is good for your health, it also may add years to your life.
A diet high in fiber-especially fiber in the form of whole grains-lowers the risk of death from heart disease as well as infectious and respiratory diseases by 24 to 59 percent, according to the findings of a nine-year federal study.
The study also found an extra benefit for men:
Those who consume the most fiber are less likely to die of cancer.
“Men and women who consumed the highest about of dietary fiber-about
30 grams per day in men and 26 grams per day in women–were 22 percent less likely to die from any cause” during the study, says Yikyung Park, lead researcher and a scientist at the National Cancer Institute.
Previous studies have focused on the relationship between fiber intake and heart disease, but few have examined the link between dietary fiber and mortality. “Our analysis adds to the literature and suggests dietary fiber intake is associated with decreased likelihood of death.” Park says.
It isn’t clear how fiber lowers the risk of death and disease, but scientists believe it may be because fiber promotes bowel movements, lowers cholesterol, regulates blood sugar levels and reduces inflammation. “Fiber may bind to potential cancer-causing agents to increase the likelihood they will be excreted by the body.” Park says.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends daily fiber intake of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Most Americans don’t get enough fiber consuming an average of 15 grams per day.
People who enjoy a varied diet filled with plenty of vegetables, fruits and grains find it easy to get enough fiber, says Lalita Kaul, a registered dietitian in Washington, D.C., and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. “It may be harder for people who are not much into vegetables, fruits and grains,” she adds.
Good sources od fiber include whole-grain breads, whole-grain breakfast cereals, brown rice, oatmeal, seeds, vegetables, dried beans, apples, oranges, pears, peaches, grapes and prunes.
Kaul outlined a simple way to consume about 25 grams of daily fiber:
Eat one slice of whole wheat bread (1.9 grams of fiber)
1 ounce of raisin bran cereal (3.4g)
1 apple with peel (3.3g)
1 banana (3.1g)
1/2 cup corn (3.2g)
1/2 cup peas (4.4g)
1/2 cup baked beans (5.2g).
Source: American Profile Magazine insert from
Elyria-Chronicle 12-20-2011