Chew on This

Study: More fiber in your diet can reduce risk of death, serious disease

An all-natural non-pharmaceutical pill that reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer by 16 percent to 24 percent would be a big seller. As these conditions are top mortality causes in the United States, what rational person wouldn’t want to take one? Well it isn’t a pill, but a food component, that can provide this level of disease risk reduction.

Sheah Rarback.jpg
Sheah Rarback

Researchers from New Zealand and Scotland reviewed 40 years of published research focused on carbohydrates and non-communicable disease incidence and mortality. A study in the January 2019 issue of Lancet summarized their findings. They found a 15 percent to 31 percent reduction in the risk for all cause mortality for those who ate the most fiber, compared with people who ate the least.

For every 8 gram increase in daily fiber intake, total deaths and incidents of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer decreased by 5 percent to 17 percent. The average fiber intake in the U.S. is 15 grams, much lower than the recommended 25-28 grams. The article states “Fiber containing foods should be chewed before passing through the stomach and into the small bowel where they affect satiety, glucose and insulin responses and lipid absorption.”

Translation: Slow down and chew your food for increased health benefits.

If you are now convinced that more fiber is the way to go, here are a few easy ways to bump your intake:

Add one cup of broccoli to your dinner plate for an extra 5 grams.

Enjoy one-half cup of beans or lentils for an 8 extra grams of fiber.

One cup of whole wheat spaghetti has 6 grams of fiber and if you add veggies to it you could be reaching 10 grams and a delicious meal.

Natural snacks with at least 3 grams of fiber include apples with peel, popcorn, and one ounce of almonds.

Check out for more answers to all your fiber questions including sources and how to read a nutrition facts label.

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.