Fiber intake from fruits and cereals may reduce risk of coronary heart disease

February 23, 2004

CHICAGO - Consumption of dietary fiber from fruits and cereals may lower the risk of coronary heart disease, according to an article in the February 23 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

According to the article, dietary fiber, found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and cereals may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and reducing cholesterol levels. Although studies suggest that the more fiber a person eats, the lower the risk of heart disease, few studies have looked at the relationship between dietary fiber from different sources and heart disease.

Mark A. Pereira, Ph.D., of Harvard University, Boston, and colleagues analyzed the pooled results of several studies (from the United States and Europe, including 91,058 men and 245,186 women) to determine whether the source of dietary fiber (from fruit, vegetables or grains) had any effect on the reduction in heart disease risk. Each study recorded what kind of foods and how much the participants ate. Although there was considerable variation in the level of dietary detail across the studies, all studies had some measurement of dietary fiber. Dr. Pereira is now at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Among the total participants from the studies, there were 5,249 incident (new) coronary heart disease cases, and 2,011 participants died of coronary heart disease over six to ten years of follow-up.

The researchers found that for each 10 gram per day increment of fiber consumed, there was a 14 percent decrease in risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) events (such as non-fatal and fatal heart attack) and a 27 percent decreased risk of dying from coronary heart disease. The researchers also found that "Associations were stronger for coronary deaths than for all events, with reductions in risk of 25 percent for cereal fiber and 30 percent for fruit fiber for each 10 gram per day increment," write the researchers. "In contrast, vegetable fiber was not associated with CHD incidence or mortality [death]."

"In conclusion, our results suggest that dietary fiber intake during adulthood is inversely associated with CHD risk. Coronary risk was 10 percent to 30 percent lower for each 10 gram per day increment of total, cereal, or fruit fiber," the authors write. "Therefore, the recommendations to consume a diet that includes an abundance of fiber-rich foods to prevent CHD are based on a wealth of consistent scientific evidence," conclude the authors.
(Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:370-376. Available post-embargo at

Editor's Note: This work was supported by a research grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. The Glostrup Population Study (GPS) was financed by the FREJA (Female Researchers in Joint Action) programme from the Danish Medical Council.

For more information, contact JAMA/Archives Media Relations at 312-464-JAMA (5262) or e-mail .

To contact Mark A. Pereira, Ph.D., call Brenda Hudson at 612-624-5680.

The JAMA Network Journals

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