Northwestern University Logo A diet rich in fiber appears more beneficial than previously thought. According to a latest study by the Northwestern University, adopting a high-fiber diet in the early years of adulthood helps avert heart disease risk later on. It was suggested that fiber consumption greatly decreases the lifetime threat for cardiovascular disease.

At the time of the study, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey about 11,000 adults was thoroughly scrutinized. Diet, blood pressure, total cholesterol, smoking status and history of diabetes of survey participants was evaluated and a formula was used to foretell lifetime risk for heart disease. Younger individuals in the age group of 20 to 39 years and middle-aged belonging to the age group of 40 to 59 years who had the highest fiber intake were compared to those with the lowest fiber intake.

“It’s long been known that high-fiber diets can help people lose weight, lower cholesterol and improve hypertension,” said Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., corresponding author of the study and chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “The results of this study make a lot of sense because weight, cholesterol and hypertension are major determinants of your long-term risk for cardiovascular disease.”

As a result, those in the highest fiber intake group reportedly had a statistically significant lower lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease. The benefits of dietary fiber intake in those aged 60 to 79 years allegedly failed to have a strong link with a decline in lifetime threat of heart disease. Hence, it can be assumed that the beneficial effect of dietary fiber requires a long period of time to achieve. Older adults supposedly have already developed a considerable threat for heart disease before starting a high-fiber diet.

The study was presented on March 23 at the American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Scientific Sessions 2011 in Atlanta, Ga.