In an article in WebMD (2/14/11, Mann), a review of a recently published study found that men and women eating the most dietary fiber were 22% less likely to die from any cause including heart disease, infections, and lung disease compared to those who ate the least amount of fiber.

The importance of this study was that prior studies have described the relationship between fiber intake and cardiovascular disease but few studies have examined the relationship between dietary fiber and mortality. Diets rich in fiber help lower blood cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels which may explain its beneficial effect. It is not known how fiber reduces risk but it may have something to do with an anti-inflammatory effect. The effect in this study appeared to come from cereal fiber, grain, and beans.

The new US dietary guidelines recommend that at least half of all grains eaten be whole and unrefined. The goal for fiber is 25 grams per day for women and 28 grams per day for men. One of the easier ways to accomplish this is to eat “whole grain” breads, cereals, and baked goods as opposed to refined varieties.  Another way to increase cereal fiber would be to eat cooked cereal.  Dr. Reisman, a Manhattan Cardiologist advises increasing dietary fiber to add a beneficial effect in both men and women.