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Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, killing about 600,000 annually. And an analysis of our daily diet shows a key food ingredient most people don’t eat that could dramatically lower the risk of dying from cardiovascular causes.
A study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, shows that simply eating more dietary fiber in fruits and vegetables daily can significantly drop heart disease risk. Instead, most of us consume a processed diet including foods that have had the fiber removed.
“Our findings indicate… the consumption of dietary fiber was consistently below the recommended total adequate intake levels across survey years,” says researcher Cheryl R. Clark. “Our study also confirms persistent differences in dietary fiber intake among socioeconomic status and racial/ethnic subpopulations over time.”
Dietary fiber, which previous studies have shown may assist in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels and inflammation, is thought to play an important role in reducing cardiovascular risk. Despite this knowledge, researchers found that dietary fiber intake was consistently below recommended intake levels in Americans surveyed in in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
The Institute of Medicine recommended intake of fiber includes: 38g per day for men aged 19-50 years, 30g per day for men 50 and over, 25g for women aged 19-50 years, and 21g per day for women over 50.
To get more fiber you should eat fewer processed foods like white bread, candy and desserts. Increase your consumption of items like beans, dark leafy vegetables, nuts, apples, grapes, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce and berries.