Get Your Fiber

Older adults who eat cereals with high fiber or dark breads may be helping to improve their heart health, shows new research.

Researchers from the University of Washington analyzed data from more than 3,500 adults, ages 65 and older, who participated in the Cardiovascular Health Study. Participants did not have cardiovascular disease at the start of the study and provided their diet information throughout the study.

Researchers identified more than 800 new cases of cardiovascular disease at the eight-year follow-up. Results of the study show adults who ate a high amount of cereals high in fiber had a 21-percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to adults who ate the lowest levels of cereal fiber. Researchers found no link between fruit or vegetable intake and cardiovascular disease. Dark breads, such as wheat, rye and pumpernickel, also lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Authors of the study write, “While the observed difference in risk was not large, it was seen with a fairly modest difference in dietary intake, approximately equal to two slices of whole grain bread per day. Compared with medical or surgical interventions, nutritional changes are relatively low risk, low cost, and widely available.”

According to the study, there are currently 35 million people over age 65 in the United States. Researchers say this is the fastest growing segment of the population and by the year 2030, 70 million people will be over age 65. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability among older adults.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003;289:1659-1666

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