A new study finds increased consumption of a high-fiber diet rich in whole grains, beans, fresh fruits, and vegetables can reduce one's risk of early death due to cancer and heart disease.
The study, published in the recent issue of the journal The Lancet, found that high-fiber diets compared with low-fiber diets saw the risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes and/or colon cancer dropped by as much as 24 percent.
"The health benefits of fiber are supported by over 100 years of research into its chemistry, physical properties, physiology and effects on metabolism," said study author Andrew Reynolds, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Otago in New Zealand.
"What really surprised us was the range of conditions that higher intakes of dietary fiber seemed to improve," Reynolds added. "Heart disease, type 2 diabetes and [colon] cancers are some of the most detrimental diseases of our time."
Reynolds and his team looked at 185 studies conducted over the last 40 years. According to the findings, the average diet includes 20 grams of fiber per day, with Americans often dropping to 15 grams or lower.
But according to the research, a diet that's nearly double the amount of the Standard American Diet -- fiber intake as high as 25 to 29 grams per day -- may be more of an ideal starting point. The researchers noted that every additional 15-grams of fiber from whole grains helped to decrease the overall "early death" risk by as much as 19 percent.
For every eight grams of fiber consumed in a day, regardless of source, the health risks dropped as much as 27 percent.
"We saw this from the trials where participants were asked to increase their fiber intakes," Reynolds said. "When considering all the trials of increasing fiber intakes, those participants that did reduced both their body weight and the total cholesterol in their blood, two important predictors of disease."
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