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Fibre is good for the heart

Published on
November 6, 2008

Men older than 40 who eat large amounts of nutritional fibre have a reduced risk of heart attack. Every additional 10 g of fibre in the diet reduces the risk of death from heart disease by 17%. This was the conclusion of an article by researchers from Wageningen UR and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Nutritional fibre is contained in whole-grain products and fruit and vegetables, explained researcher ir. Martinette Streppel, who will defend her PhD thesis on nutritional research in 2009. The researchers involved in the study expected that older men who had eaten a fibre-rich diet through the years would have a lower risk of coronary heart disease, which is the result of arterial sclerosis. ‘However, it was surprising that fibre can also reduce the risk of dying from heart disease over a relatively short term’, stated Streppel. ‘Moreover, we found no difference between the effects of fibre from grain products, vegetables or fruit.’

Her research is part of the renowned ‘Zutphen study’, a long-term study involving 1400 men in the town of Zutphen (the Netherlands) into the relationship between nutrition and cardiovascular disease. The men over 40 were questioned seven times between 1960 and 2000 about their eating habits. In addition, the mortality due to cardiovascular disease of men in this age group was tracked. The study had previously shown that the consumption of fish, vegetables and fruit reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

‘The advantage of this study is that you have multiple measurement points’, says Streppel. ‘In many nutritional studies, the nutritional pattern is only ascertained once in order to coordinate this aspect with the clinical picture 10 or 15 years later. Due to the multiple measurement points, we could analyse both short-term and long-term effects of nutrition.’ | Albert Sikkema