Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Fiber May Reduce Risk Of Disease, Help You Live Longer

A new study found that a high-fiber diet can help prevent cancer and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

grains and beans in bags at a market

Photo: Whirling Phoenix (flickr)

Grains and beans, like the ones found at this market, are examples of foods that an average adult should eat in order to consume at least 28 grams of fiber daily.

Time to stock up on beans.

A massive study from the National Institutes of Health and AARP, conducted over a nine-year period, found that diets rich in fiber were linked to significantly lower rates of death. The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on February 14.

Reducing Your Risk

388,000 people took part in the study, which measured the effects of varying levels of fiber on mortality. Fiber lowers blood cholesterol and glucose levels, as well as helping with bowel movements.

After a nine-year period, the people who consumed the most fiber were less likely to die of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Men who ate more fiber were also less likely to die of certain kinds of cancer, like cancers of the head, neck, esophagus, liver, bladder and kidney. But women didn’t see a change in risks for these types of cancers as they are at lower risk for them to begin with.

Beans Vs. Grains

Where the fiber comes from makes a difference, too. Grains and legumes are the best sources, according to the study. Beans seem to help women more than men. Fruit fiber doesn’t seem to help with longevity, but vegetables do.

Adults should aim to eat 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories they consume, so an average adult should eat at least 28 grams of fiber a day. Most Americans struggle to get even half of that.

Fiber On The Menu

Want to add some more to your diet? Try some of these fiber-rich foods:

  • Cooked split peas, 1 cup: 16.3 grams
  • Cooked black beans, 1 cup: 15 grams
  • Artichoke, 1 medium: 10.3 grams
  • Cooked whole-wheat pasta, 1 cup: 6.2 grams
  • Almonds, 23 nuts: 3.5 grams
  • Whole-wheat, rye or multigrain bread, 1 slice: 1.9 grams

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Carrie Schedler

Carrie Schedler is a senior at Indiana University studying journalism, English and French. She's originally from Columbus, Ohio, and still dreams often about salty caramel ice cream from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and baguettes from her semester abroad in Paris. Hopefully, she'll learn how to cook eventually.

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