High-fibre diet 'benefits heart attack patients'

Wholemeal bread Fibre-rich foods, such as wholemeal bread, appear to help heart-attack survivors live longer

Related Stories

If you have had a heart attack, eat plenty of fibre because it may improve your long-term chances of recovery, say US researchers.

Heart-attack survivors were more likely to be alive nine years later if they followed a high-fibre diet, a study in the British Medical Journal found.

Every 10g-per-day increase in fibre intake was linked with a 15% drop in death risk during the study.

Dietary fibre may improve blood pressure and cholesterol, experts say.

Start Quote

To get more fibre, you can make simple swaps, such as trading white bread for wholegrain versions”

End Quote Victoria Taylor British Heart Foundation

On average, most people in the UK get about 14g of fibre a day, against a target of at least 18g. US experts recommend up to 38g a day.

Fruit, such as bananas and apples, root vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, wholemeal bread, cereals and bran are all good sources of dietary fibre.

A jacket potato and baked beans contain about 10g of fibre; two slices of wholemeal bread about 4g.

Breakfast cereals

A low-fibre diet is associated with constipation and gut diseases, such as diverticulitis and bowel cancer, but it may also have implications for heart health, say US researchers.

High-fibre foods

Bowl of cereal bran
  • One orange or pear - 3g fibre
  • Six dried apricots - 4g
  • Jacket potato - 5g
  • Bowl of bran - 10g
  • Bowl of muesli - 3.5g
  • 2 slices of wholemeal bread - 4.2g

Source: NHS

The Harvard School of Public Health team analysed data from two large US studies involving more than 4,000 men and women who had survived a first heart attack and had provided information about their usual diet via questionnaires.

They were followed for an average of almost nine years after their heart attacks, during which time 682 of the women and 451 of the men died.

Chances of survival appeared to be linked with fibre intake, which was mostly from breakfast cereals.

The one in five who ate most fibre had a 25% lower chance of dying from any cause during the nine years after their heart attack compared with the fifth who ate the least.

The high-fibre group was 13% less likely to have a fatal heart attack.

The researchers say the findings point to a simple lifestyle step that people could take, alongside their medication, to improve their long-term health prospects.

Victoria Taylor, of the British Heart Foundation, said: "High-fibre foods are a key part of a healthy balanced diet, and this study suggests they may have a particular benefit for heart-attack survivors.

"We can't say for sure what caused the fibre benefit seen here, but we do know that, on average, we're not getting enough fibre in our diets.

"Fibre comes from a range of foods, including fruit and veg, beans and lentils, and also from cereal products, which this study found to be particularly beneficial.

"To get more fibre, you can make simple swaps, such as trading white bread for wholegrain versions or opting for higher-fibre breakfast cereals, like porridge or muesli."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    @75 Forgive me but stress has long been recognised as a contributory factor to heart disease & other conditions. I ran my own business for over 50 years and regularly worked 12-14 hour six day weeks. I had two heart attacks in 2004 and was told that stress had undoubtedly contributed to my cardiac condition. All the stuff I've read since says the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    A recent study has shown that people who are in full time salaried employment, who have no dependants, do not watch any news or current affairs, have no debt or political affiliation and can employ a mentality which simply could not give a damn about anything or anybody are over 6000% less likely to have a heart attack .... and thats a fact !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    I note that no account was taken of risk from congental heart disease. It is in both sides of my family and has been responsible for a large proportion of the deaths in it. I was told many years ago that I had a higher than average risk of developing heart disease and proved to be the case despite trying to have a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes it's just down to your luck regardless of lifestyle.

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


Comments 5 of 81


More Health stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

BBC Future

What's life like when you get drunk on rice and potato? (Getty Images)

The man who gets drunk on chips

He brews beer inside his belly


  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.