Study Finds That High Fiber Diet Lowers Stroke Risk

woman buys vegetables, fruits
Individuals who increased daily fiber in diet lowered their risk of both hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke by 7%, recent study finds. REUTERS/Albert Gea

Adding more fiber in your diet can lower your chances of getting first time stroke, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Leeds conducted eight studies across the United States, Europe, Australia and Japan between 1990 and 2012. They found that participants who increased their consumption of dietary fiber by 7 grams lowered their risk of both hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke by seven percent. A stroke occurs when a clot blocks blood supply to the brain or a blood vessel in the brain bursts.

Dietary fiber is primarily found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Incorporating a high-fiber diet can have the effect of making you feel fuller for a longer amount of time and therefore can help you maintain a healthy weight.

Fiber also helps digestion and can prevent constipation. Doctors recommend 14 g of dietary fiber per 1,000 kcal, or 25 g for women and 38 g for men -- this is the amount clinically proven to protect people from developing cardiovascular disease. What does that mean in terms of actual food? In order to get the recommended amount of diber into your diet, the American Heart Association recommends eight to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables and six to eight servings of grain every day.

"Increasing your fiber intake doesn't necessarily mean wholesale change to your diet. It might just mean switching from white bread to whole meal, or from corn flakes to bran flakes. It's a simple measure with a lot of benefits," said Victoria Burley, co-author and professor from the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds in United Kingdom, in a press release.

A stroke is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing one in every 19 people  Nearly 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year -- and 610,000 of them are first time strokes.

"Greater intake of fiber-rich foods -- such as whole-grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts -- are important for everyone, and especially for those with stroke risk factors like being overweight, smoking and having high blood pressure," said Diane Threapleton, lead author of the study.

The study was published online in the journal Stroke.

Join the Discussion