Research Reveals The Best Source Of Fiber For Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Cereal fiber is associated with lower inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a new cohort study published in JAMA Open Network. Researchers at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health analyzed data from more than 4,000 older adults over the course of 26 years in order to evaluate the link between dietary fiber and inflammation in older adults and the potential impact of increased fiber intake on incidences of cardiovascular disease (via Columbia University).

During the study, participants without prevalent cardiovascular disease completed a food frequency questionnaire that helped estimate total fiber intake, total energy, and source of fiber intake, and received blood tests to assess inflammatory markers. For the first 10 years of the study, starting in 1989, participants followed up with a combination of phone calls and in-person visits. After 1999, however, participants only received follow-up calls. According to Dr. Rupak Shivakoti, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School, the study's findings revealed that higher intakes of fiber were linked to a reduction in cardiovascular disease.

Cereal fiber may lower inflammation

What's perhaps most interesting about the study findings was the notion that not all dietary fiber is the same. As it turns out, researchers found that only cereal fiber — not fruit or vegetable fiber — was consistently associated with lower inflammation, according to FoodNavigator-USA. This doesn't mean that other types of fiber didn't have a positive impact on lowering inflammation. It just means that cereal fiber appeared to have a stronger connection to lower incidences of inflammation and cardiovascular disease than dietary fiber from fruits and vegetables. The exact reason for this is still unclear, however. That's why further research and investigation is still needed.

According to Dr. Shivakoti, inflammation was found to have a fairly modest role in the mediation of the inverse correlation between cardiovascular disease and cereal fiber, which suggests that other factors besides inflammation could be at play. In order to find out which factors may play a bigger role in the fiber-related reduction of heart disease, however, they "will need to be tested in future interventions of specific populations."