Why Fiber is Crucial to Beating America’s Leading Cause of Death
For over a decade, heart disease has been America’s #1 killer (1). And if there is one way to prevent it, it’s certainly through diet. More specifically, there is a well-established solution to preventing and curing heart disease: a fiber-rich diet. The benefit of soluble fiber on preventing heart diseases is extremely noteworthy. Here are some reasons why:
Soluble fiber, a type of dietary fiber that is fermented by our gut bacteria (2), is broken down in the large intestine and produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFA’s). A study found that with the production of SCFA’s via soluble fiber fermentation changes the SCFA ratio to lower the body’s serum lipid level (3). Therefore, a soluble fiber-rich diet could decrease overall blood lipid levels and maintain a healthy balance of fats in the body, both of which will help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Here is a list of foods that are high in soluble fiber: (4)
- Beans (kidney, pinto/black, soy)
- Peas (split, green)
- Fruits (dates, oranges)
More specifically in the topic of fat consumption, dietary fiber can help fight cardiovascular disease by lowering “bad/unhealthy” fats and increasing the consumption of “good/healthy” fats (5).
For example, edamame, a major ingredient in our FYBR bars, is a good source of both fiber and health omega-6 and omega-3 fats. These fats are called “healthy” because they protect cardiovascular health by lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels (6). LDL cholesterol can build up in the arterial walls and retard blood flow to the heart—a form of heart disease called atherosclerosis (7). Decreasing LDL cholesterol can prevent and improve heart disease. Thus, with a high-fiber diet, you not only gain the dietary benefits of fiber, but of all the other benefits like healthy omega-6 and 3 fats linked to a high-fiber meal.
List of fiber-rich foods/snacks that also contain healthy fats: (8,9,10,11,12)
- Almonds: 3.1g fiber & 14.9g fats per 1oz
- Avocado: 10g fiber & 22g fats per avocado
- Chia seeds: 7.7g fiber & 11.8g fats per 1oz
- Edamame: 5.7g fiber & 5.6g fats per 1 cup
- Pistachio: 3g fiber & 12.8g fats per 1oz
Also, studies have shown that fiber can help lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients (13). Lowering hypertension can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, which are two major components of cardiovascular diseases (14). Heart attack and stroke are usually the aftermath of hypertension, also referred to as the “silent killer” (15). The significant damage caused by heart attacks and strokes significantly increases one’s chance of another even more damaging heart attack or death.
Thus, dietary fiber’s ability to decrease overall blood lipids, promote healthy fat consumption, and lower blood pressure could tremendously help lower the rate of death of America’s #1 killer.
Author: Haekyeung Kang, BS, Nutrition and Dietetics, NYU, 2017-2021
(1) “FastStats - Leading Causes of Death.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 Mar. 2017, www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm.
(2) Lattimer, James M, and Mark D Haub. “Effects of dietary fiber and its components on metabolic health.” Nutrients vol. 2,12 (2010): 1266-89. doi:10.3390/nu2121266
(3) Wong, Julia M W, et al. “Colonic Health: Fermentation and Short Chain Fatty Acids.” Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2006, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16633129.
(4) Nutrition facts label: Dietary fiber. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/#intro.
(5) M Stasse-Wolthuis, H F F Albers, J G C van Jeveren, J Wil de Jong, J G A J Hautvast, R J J Hermus, M B Katan, W G Brydon, M A Eastwood, Influence of dietary fiber from vegetables and fruits, bran or citrus pectin on serum lipids, fecal lipids, and colonic function, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 33, Issue 8, August 1980, Pages 1745–1756, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/33.8.1745
(6) “Exceptional, Enjoyable Edamame - Today's Dietitian Magazine.” Today's Dietitian, www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0417p24.shtml.
(7) “Atherosclerosis.” Www.heart.org, 30 Apr. 2017, www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/about-cholesterol/atherosclerosis.
(8) “Nuts, Almonds.” FoodData Central, 30 Oct. 2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html.
(9) “Avocado, Raw.” FoodData Central, 30 Oct. 2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html.
(10) “Chia Seeds.” FoodData Central, 30 Oct. 2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html.
(11) “Edamame, Frozen, Unprepared.” FoodData Central, 30 Oct. 2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html.
(12) “Nuts, Pistachio Nuts, Raw” FoodData Central, 1 Apr. 2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html.
(13) Whelton, Seamus P, et al. “Effect of Dietary Fiber Intake on Blood Pressure: a Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trials.” Journal of Hypertension, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2005, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15716684.
(14) “How High Blood Pressure Can Affect Your Body.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 Nov. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20045868.
(15) “Why High Blood Pressure Is a ‘Silent Killer.’” Www.heart.org, 30 Nov. 2017, www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/why-high-blood-pressure-is-a-silent-killer.