Stroke Risk Lowered By Adding More Fiber To Your Diet
March 29, 2013

Add More Dietary Fiber To Your Plate To Reduce First Time Stroke Risk

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Any parent who has difficulty convincing their children to eat their vegetables now has some powerful new evidence at their disposal.

According to a new study in the journal Stroke, eating more fiber leads to a reduced risk for suffering a first-time stroke.

For every additional 7 grams of fiber eaten, an individual´s risk of a suffering a stroke for the first time drops by 7 percent, according to the study, which was based on a review of over 20 years of research by a group of UK researchers.

"This is important because most people in the U.S. do not eat enough fiber-rich foods," said study co-author Victoria Burley, from the University of Leeds. "Total dietary fiber intake should be 25 to 30 grams a day from food, but on average people in the U.S. are getting only half this amount.”

In the study, the British scientists analyzed eight studies that were published between 1990 and 2012. While every study included in the review focused on all types of stroke, four studies specifically examined the risk of ischemic stroke, which is caused by a clot that obstructs a blood vessel to the brain. Three studies honed in of assessing the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a ruptured blood vessel leaks blood into the brain.

The results of the review were based on total dietary fiber and did not make a connection between soluble fiber and stroke risk. The review also lacked enough data on insoluble fiber to make any conclusions on how it impacts stroke risk.

The researchers also did not identify which particular fiber-rich foods might offer the most benefit or include supplements in their review, "so we can't say that fiber supplements would provide the same benefit as eating fiber-rich foods," Burley said.

"Increasing your fiber intake doesn't necessarily mean wholesale change to your diet," she added. "It might just mean switching from white bread to whole-meal, or from corn flakes to bran flakes."

“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 co-author Diane Threapleton, a researcher from the University of Leeds´ School of Food Science & Nutrition.

The UK team said adding additional fiber to a diet would be fairly easy as a variety of foods — whole wheat pasta or two servings of produce — would provide a way to reach the goal of reduced stroke risk. They noted that more research would be needed to come up with a model risk-reducing grocery list.

According to the American Heart Association, the average US adult eats much lower than the recommended 25 grams of fiber per day. Information in the UK review said the current average fiber intake in the United States is about 13 grams a day for women and 17 for men.

The AHA said that stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, killing over 137,000 people each year. Even survivors of the attack often suffer from some type of difficulty of disability afterward.