By 2030, approximately one in five Americans (70 million people)
will be 65 years or older. Besides being the fastest-growing
segment of the population, seniors suffer from the most cases
of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including stroke, heart disease
and heart attack. Preventive health measures have been thought
to have a lesser effect on this population than on younger
individuals. Thanks to a recent study in the Journal of
the American Medical Association, that view may change,
Researchers compared risk for cardiovascular disease with
fiber intake from cereals (including whole-grain breads and
wheat bran), fruit and vegetable sources in seniors. More
than 3,500 men and women 65 years or older were surveyed for
dietary fiber consumption, then followed for about a decade
to record the development of cases of CVD.
Eating more cereal fiber was associated with a significantly
reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, with those eating
the most cereal fiber 21% less likely to develop the condition
than those eating the least. Dark breads, including whole
wheat, rye and pumpernickel, reduced CVD risk the most. Fiber
intake from fruits and vegetables did not appear to similarly
reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.
The authors of this study mention that eating just two additional
slices of whole-grain bread daily would have been enough to
raise individuals from the lowest to the highest cereal-fiber
group. Since nutritional changes are less expensive and less
dangerous than medical or surgical solutions down the road,
heed this information and be sure to eat plenty of whole grains.
Obtaining enough cereal fiber is easy: Simply replace refined-grain
breads with whole-grain ones and eat whole-grain cereals instead
of sugary cereals, muffins or doughnuts.
Mozaffarian D, Kumanyika SK, et al. Cereal, fruit and vegetable
fiber intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease in elderly
individuals. Journal of the American Medical Association
2003:289(13), pp. 1659-1666.
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