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Fiber Found to Help Heart Health By Helping Lower Inflammation

By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, December 7, 2010, abstracted from “Fiber’s impact on high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels in cardiovascular disease” in the 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death for men and women, respectively, cause more than one-third of all U.S. deaths. They are two of the leading causes of disability in the United States, disabling nearly 3 million people. The total cost of cardiovascular diseases in the United States, from health care expenditures to lost productivity and deaths and disability, is expected to exceed $503 billion in 2010 (1).

Long-standing inflammation (2) plays “a major role” in the development of atherosclerosis (3) as well as the progression of atherosclerotic plaques (4). As a result, dealing with inflammation is now a prime target in helping maintain heart health. Now a new study (5) has found that fiber may help maintain heart health by helping maintain healthy levels of an inflammatory protein called high-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein. which is used to assess and help predict cardiovascular risk (6).

In the study, researchers reviewed 6 studies published between 2003 and 2008 examining fiber’s role in inflammation and heart disease. Patients ranged from 18 to 75 years of age and fiber intake ranged from 5.1 to 32 grams/day. When examining total fiber intake and inflammation, a 2003 study (7) showed that increasing fiber intake from 16 to 25 grams per day helped lower hs-CRP levels by 35% (3.2 to 2.1 mg/L). These same researchers conducted a study in 2004 (8) that found increasing fiber intake from 14 to 32 grams per day lowered hs-CRP levels by 39% (2.8 to 1.7 mg/L).

When looking at specific types of fiber, a 2006 study (8) found that compared to those with the lowest soluble fiber intake (3.8 grams/day), those with the highest soluble fiber intake per day (7.8 g/d) had a 61% reduced risk of having high levels of hs-CRP (greater than 3 mg/L). For insoluble fiber, they found those with the highest intake of insoluble fiber (14.39 g/d) to have a 75% reduced risk of having hs-CRP levels greater than 3 mg/L compared to those with the lowest insoluble fiber intake (6.37 g/d).

For the researchers, “Fiber in the diet may play a strong role in cardiovascular health” and that “Patients need to be educated to adhere to a high fiber diet, either by dietary or supplemental means, using the recommended 25–30 grams of fiber per day.”

Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Danville, CA. You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.PitchingDoc.com


1. “Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention” - http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/dhdsp.htm
2. Kovanen, P. T. (2007). Mast cells: Multipotent local effector cells in atherothrombosis. Immunological Reviews, 217, 105–122.
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4. Kleinschmidt, K. C. (2006). Epidemiology and pathophysiology of acute coronary syndrome. John Hopkins Advanced Studies in Nursing, 4, 72–77.
5. Butcher JL. Fiber’s impact on high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels in cardiovascular disease. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners 22 (2010) 566–572
6. Libby P. Inflammation in atherosclerosis. Nature 2002; 420, 868–874
7. Esposito, K. Effect of a Mediterranean-style diet on endothelial dysfunction and markers of vascular inflammation in the metabolic syndrome: A randomized trial. Journal of the American Medical Association 2004; 292(12), 1440–1446
8. Ma Y. Association between dietary fiber and serum C-reactive protein. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005; 83, 760–766.