High fiber improves heart attack survival

Eating foods high in fiber—like fruit, legumes and grains—after surviving a heart attack can decrease your chances of dying over the years that follow. People who increased their fiber intake the most after suffering from a heart attack were 25% less likely to die from any cause up to nine years later compared to heart attack survivors who ate the least fiber.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health tracked the eating habits of more than 4000 participants in long-term prospective health studies (the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professional Follow-up Study) who survived their first heart attach over the course of the studies. When they compared fiber from three sources—fruits, vegetables and cereals—they found that cereals were by far the biggest source of fiber and also the only source that was individually associated with a lower risk of death.

These findings suggest that long-term medication may be less important than diet and lifestyle factors for helping people stay well after a heart attack. It is estimated that less that 5% of Americans consume the recommended minimum fiber intake each day (25 g for women and 38 g for men).

(Source: British Medical Journal 2014;348:g2659. )

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