Consuming a high-fiber diet reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, according to a new national study.
The findings, published in The American Journal of Medicine, are based on an analysis of the medical charts of more than 23,000 participants in the long-running National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Past studies have shown that dietary fiber can lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and inflammation. But the new research shows fiber intake is typically half of the recommended levels.
The Institute of Medicine recommends 38 grams of fiber per day for men aged 19-50 years, 30 grams for men 50 and over, 25 grams for women aged 19-50 years, and 21 grams for women over 50. But the study found that most Americans consume half of that amount, or less.
The study also found a correlation between low dietary fiber and an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants with the highest prevalence of metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and obesity had the lowest levels of dietary fiber intake.
"Overall, the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and obesity each decreased with increasing quintiles of dietary fiber intake," said Cheryl R. Clark, M.D., of the Center for Community Health and Health Equity, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
"Compared with participants in the lowest quintile of dietary fiber intake, participants in the highest quintile of dietary fiber intake had a statistically significant lower risk of having the metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and obesity."
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