Taking steps to include more fiber in your diet could help to protect you from suffering a stroke, a new review of studies suggests.
New research published in the journal Stroke shows that increasing dietary fiber intake by 7 grams every day is associated with a 7 percent lower risk of having a stroke for the first time. (Food-wise, 7 grams of fiber translates to two servings of produce and one serving of whole wheat pasta.)
"Most people do not get the recommended level of fiber, and increasing fiber may contribute to lower risk for strokes," study researcher Diane Threapleton, M.Sc., who is a Ph.D. candidate in food science and nutrition at the University of Leeds, said in a statement. "We must educate consumers on the continued importance of increasing fiber intake and help them learn how to increase fiber in their diet." According to the American Heart Association, people should aim to consume 25 grams of fiber a day.
The new study included analysis of eight studies that were published between 1990 and 2012, that evaluated stroke risk (some evaluated ischemic stroke risk, some evaluated hemorrhagic stroke risk).
Researchers found an association between total dietary fiber and stroke risk, though they didn't find an association between soluble fiber in particular (soluble fiber is dissolvable in water) and didn't have enough evidence to find an association between insoluble fiber and stroke risk.
Of course, beyond potentially lowering risk of stroke, fiber is also great for the body because it helps to lower levels of "bad" cholesterol, promotes digestive health and helps the body to feel full. For some great sources of fiber, click through the slideshow: