New research findings elevate the role of fibres further by stating that cereal fibre and whole-grain products may slow atherosclerosis and plaque build-up in the arteries in postmenopausal women.
Previous studies linked dietary fibre, particularly cereal fibre, with a decreased risk of heart disease and death. Investigating the effect of dietary fibres from cereal, whole-grains, fruit, and vegetables, and refined grain products on the progression of existing coronary artery disease in women was the aim of this study.
229 postmenopausal women with 30 percent artery blockage participating in the Oestrogen Replacement and Atherosclerosis trial were chosen as the target study group. The food frequency questionnaire was used to estimate the dietary fibre. The coronary arteries were assessed for the change in mean coronary artery diameter and mean percent stenosis or artery narrowing over a period of three years.
The researchers found that compared to those who had lower intakes, those with more than three grams of cereal fibre or six servings of whole grains per week were associated with a smaller decline in minimum coronary artery diameter after considering other factors including age, cardiovascular risk factors and dietary intakes of saturated and polyunsaturated fat, cholesterol, and alcohol.
Slower progression of stenosis was also observed in those with high intakes of cereal fibre or whole grain products. The effect of grain fibre or whole grains on stenosis is almost the same as that observed in patients treated with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
No association between intakes of total, fruit, and vegetable fibre and the number of servings of refined grain, fruits or vegetables with artery narrowing progression.
Overall, the results indicated that high intakes of cereal fibre or whole grain products may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women.