Fruit and fibre 'lessen heart risk'

Eating extra fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and beans can reduce the likelihood of heart disease, according to a new study.

As little as an extra quarter ounce of daily fibre could be the key to avoiding the pain of cardiac arrest, claims the University of Leeds research.

This would mean people eating just one portion of wholegrains plus a portion of beans or lentils, or through two to four servings of fruit and vegetables each day.

Scientists reviewed the effect of fibre in the diet through data from the US, Europe, Japan and Australia.

They found that every additional 7g (0.25oz) per day of fibre in the diet reduced the risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease by 9%.

Researchers said this means that a small lifestyle change could affect thousands of people.

This, they say, is because cardiovascular disease is one of the UK's leading causes of death with prevalence rates among the population calculated to be about 13%-16%.

Consuming more cereal fibre was also shown to have an impact in the research.

Dr Robert Baron, professor of medicine at the University of California, said the research "increases our confidence that benefit, as reflected by reduced cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease events, will in fact accrue with higher dietary fibre intakes."

Dr Baron claims that the recommendation for diets to have adequate quantities of dietary fibre may transpire to be the most important nutrition advice going.

Victoria Taylor, from the British Heart Foundation, said it is already recognised that eating a fibre-rich diet will help keep our digestive systems healthy, but the link between fibre and our hearts is less clear.

She added: “Though we don't know exactly what causes this association between fibre intake and coronary heart disease risk, a number of foods like fruit, veg and pulses are all easy to include within a balanced diet and are satisfying to eat.”

Ms Taylor said the results were an incentive to eat sprouts and parsnips this Christmas and help look after people's hearts and digestive systems into the new year.

These findings and comments are published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).