A review of studies and trials conducted over the last 40 years has shown that there is a link between eating more dietary fiber and whole grains and a lower risk of non-communicable diseases such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer.
The World Health Organization commissioned this study to develop new recommendations on optimal fiber intake. In the USA, the average daily intake of dietary fiber is just 16 g per day, much less than the current recommended amount.
Previous reviews have mostly examined the effect of dietary fiber and whole grains on specific types of diseases, whereas this systematic review looked at a wide range of studies and clinical trials to get a wider picture of the health benefits of eating more dietary fiber.
The study carefully analyzed data from 185 studies and 58 clinical trials involving over 4,500 participants. Observational studies revealed that a fiber-rich diet meant a 15–30% decrease in mortality from non-communicable diseases and cardiovascular diseases, as well as in the occurrence of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and strokes. When a higher intake of dietary fiber was compared to lower intake, clinical trials showed significantly lower body weight, blood pressure, and total cholesterol. The findings suggested that the reduction in risk is greatest when between 25 g and 29 g of dietary fiber is consumed.
This study has important implications for human health, as it indicates that consuming higher amounts of dietary fiber and whole grains has an important role supporting overall health.
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