- Fiber from foods such as vegetables and grains are important for digestion, metabolism and longevity.
- Whole fiber may have unique benefits over other heart health foods, new research suggests.
- Sources of fiber such as dark bread, bran, and grains can help reduce the risk of inflammation and heart disease.
Eating enough fiber is important for health, but some sources of fiber may be healthier for the heart than others, new research suggests.
Whole grain fiber can reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of
more than fiber from fruits and vegetables, according to a study published March 31 on JAMA Network Open.
Researchers from several universities, including Harvard Chan School of Public Health and Columbia University, looked at data from 4,125 adults aged 65 and over over about 25 years of follow-up. The researchers compared fiber intake (calculated from food surveys) with markers of inflammation in the blood and the rate of heart disease cases in the participants over time.
The researchers found that total fiber was associated with fewer inflammation markers and a lower risk of heart disease, which came as no surprise. Previous research has suggested that getting enough fiber improves gut health, regulates blood sugar, and reduces the risk of chronic disease.
However, by separating the data based on fiber sources, the researchers found that a specific type was linked to a lower risk of heart disease and inflammation: fiber from whole foods such as dark bread, high-fiber cereals (such as wheat flour). ‘oat) and bran.
In contrast, fiber from fruits and vegetables, such as apples, oranges, bananas, beans, broccoli, and peas, have not been consistently linked to less inflammation.
The difference was striking, said Rupak Shivakoti, lead author of the study and assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.
“Fiber in general is thought to play a role in reducing inflammation, but the data from our study suggests that fiber from fruits and vegetables may play a lesser role in inflammation levels than fiber from grains,” Shivakoti said. to Insider.
The findings suggest that whole grains may be particularly helpful in reducing inflammation and heart disease risk, but more research is needed to determine how best to make the most of the health benefits of different sources of fiber.
Whole grains may have unique heart health benefits
Initially, the researchers theorized that whole-grain fiber could reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering inflammation more than other types of fiber. While it was true that whole grains were linked to less inflammation, it didn’t fully explain the disparity.
Other nutrients in whole grains besides fiber can help explain the benefits, including protein, B vitamins, healthy fats, and minerals.
The study was limited as it was observational, so the data could not directly show that whole grain fiber caused better health outcomes. It also focused on a specific population of older adults, mostly white. As a result, more research is needed to see how whole grain fiber could lead to benefits and for whom.
For now, the best advice is to follow the current recommendations for total fiber intake and not skimp on fruits and vegetables, as they are still a good source of nutrients, according to Shivakoti.
“There are still other known health benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables, and therefore their sufficient consumption remains important,” he said.
And if you are concerned about heart health or inflammation in particular, consider adding a few more servings of whole grains to your diet.