High fiber diet and longevity

By • Published: May 28th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Looking to add more fiber to your diet? Most people know eating a diet high in fiber is good for the digestive system. But did you know that high-fiber foods such as raspberries, lentils and bran flakes can also prevent heart disease, diabetes and some cancers?

Now a new study suggests a diet chock-full of whole-grain fiber has another health benefit — a longer lifespan.

According to a National Institutes of Health study that examined the food habits of 388,000 adults, people who consumed the most fiber were 22 percent less likely to die than people who ate the least. The participants were surveyed first in the 1990s when they were between the ages of 50 and 71. The researchers then caught up with them again years later.

Currently, U.S dietary guidelines recommend people eat about 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. On average, participants in the study ate between 10 and 29 grams of fiber per day.

The study also shows that the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, as well as the risk for infectious and respiratory disease, was significantly lower in those who chowed on high-fiber foods. People who ate the most fiber were less likely to smoke, drink alcohol and eat red meats. Interestingly, the high-fiber folks also tended to be more physically attractive, have a lower body mass index and have a higher education.

Cancer rates were lower in men who consumed the fiber-rich diet, too.

But not all high-fiber foods are created equally. Whole-grain fibers appear to be the best if you want to live longer. Fiber from fruit had no effect on longevity.

So the next time you are debating between bacon and eggs for breakfast or a bowl of oatmeal, you may want to reach for the oats and a spoon. It’s one high-fiber meal you won’t regret.