March 16, 2008

Is Fruit Fiber Better For Heart Than Vegetable Fiber?

by Ng Peng Hock

As we all know, fiber is good at lowering blood cholesterol, which will in turn reduce the risk of heart disease. Fiber can be found in most fruits and vegetables.

A study released in 2004, however, found that not all fiber is created equal, and not all may offer equal protection for heart disease. Only dietary fiber from cereals and fruits, but not vegetables, appeared to reduce the risk of heart disease.

The researchers pooled the results of 10 studies conducted in the United States and Europe, containing data on more than 330,000 men and women. They found that every increase in total fiber intake of 10 g a day translated into a drop of 14 percent in the risk of developing heart disease within the next 6 to 10 years. Nevertheless, only fiber from fruits and whole grains appeared to do this, while fiber from vegetables had no influence on heart health.

The researchers could not find out why there was nothing at all for vegetable fiber, although they do agree that fiber from certain vegetables may still reduce the risk of heart disease. The possible reason might be people do not eat enough high-quality vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and fresh peppers. On the contrary, most people choose to eat potatoes and other forms of starchy vegetables like peas and corn. In fact, people who do not opt for starchy vegetables and choose green and leafy vegetables that are fresh or frozen rather than overly processed, may see some heart-healthy benefits.

Just for comparison, a medium-sized apple contains about 3 g of fiber; a slice of whole wheat bread contains 1.5 g; whereas a stalk of broccoli contains about 2.7 g.

It is suggested that at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day to help prevent heart disease. Eating at least 50 g of soluble fiber found in fruits and vegetables a day can help lower insulin levels for diabetes, according to researchers at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. The recommended fruits are orange fruits like cantaloupes, papaya, mangoes, and oranges. Vegetables such as broccoli, okra, artichokes, and kohlrabi are also good sources of fiber. Soluble fiber can be found in beans and grains like oats.

In conclusion, fiber from vegetables does contribute to the benefit of reducing risk of heart disease, as what the fiber from fruits do. The important thing here is you must select and eat the appropriate kinds of vegetables. Moreover, the way you eat the vegetables also play a role.

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