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How to Sneak More Fiber Into Your Diet



Here’s another reason to up your intake of fruits, veggies, and whole grains: People who eat more fiber are less likely to suffer a stroke, according to a new study in the journal Stroke

Researchers looked at eight observational studies published between 1990 and 2012. They found that each seven-gram increase in daily fiber was associated with a seven percent reduction in first-time stroke risk. The mechanism is likely related to some of the known risk factors for a stroke, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity, says study co-author Victoria Burley, PhD, senior lecturer at the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds in England. Not only has fiber been shown to help with high blood pressure and cholesterol, but it also fills you up and keeps you satiated, which may lead you to consume fewer overall calories, says Burley. 

But this doesn’t mean that adding a couple of fiber-filled snack bars to your diet for a few weeks will cut your stroke risk or, if you’ve already had one, prevent you from having another. These studies analyzed long-term eating patterns and only assessed first-time stroke risk. Plus, you should opt for natural sources of the nutrient over those fiber-enriched foods you see at the grocery store since researchers aren’t 100 percent sure whether it’s the fiber or something else in the foods that slashes your odds of having a stroke, says Burley. 

While it should be easy enough to fill your plate with fiber-rich foods like fruits, veggies, whole grain pastas, and whole grain rice, most Americans are still only getting about half of the recommended 25 grams of daily dietary fiber, says Burley. Not sure how much food will add up to 25 grams of fiber? If you aim for 3 servings of fruit and 4 servings of veggies per day, then fill in the gaps with 3-6 servings of whole grains, beans and legumes, you should be good, says Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA.