KEY POINTS

  • Nearly 30% of Americans suffer from high blood pressure
  • The nation loses about 60,000 lives every year to hypertension
  • New research pointed out that dietary fiber helps lower blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular conditions

High blood pressure, a.k.a. hypertension, is said to be the silent killer that affects nearly 30% of Americans, causing about 60,000 deaths every year. Although it typically exhibits no symptoms, it does a significant amount of damage to your cardiovascular system. New research suggested that consuming low fiber diets can lead to high blood pressure.

Experts at the Monash University School of Biological Sciences fed a low fiber diet to mice models and found that they went on to develop hypertension.

"High blood pressure continues to be a major risk factor for cardiovascular death," MedicalXpress quoted said lead study author Dr. Francine Marques, a National Heart Foundation Future Leader at the Monash University School of Biological Sciences. "A diet poor in fiber is associated with the prevalence of high blood pressure, but this study is changing the concept of fiber intake being only protective: lack of fiber can actually contribute to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, and this happens via the gut microbiota," he added.

stroke fiber and eggs stroke fiber and eggs Photo: RitaE - Pixabay

The authors believe that the findings of their study are significant since it has identified for the first time how dietary fiber directly regulated heart and blood vessel health.

When starches are fermented in the gut, it releases certain metabolites including small molecules known as ‘short-chain fatty acids’ (SCFAs). When the researchers had fed mice directly with these SCFAs, even in the absence of prebiotic fiber, it lowered their blood pressure and improved their cardiovascular health.

The authors also demonstrated that the gut microbiome is very closely linked to blood pressure and highlighted the fact that this link is the result of chemicals released by the gut bacteria into the circulated blood. The findings of the study reinforce that a high-fiber diet can be used to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases.

When left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to complications including myocardial infarction, stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and stiffening of the arteries, cardiac muscles, and kidneys leading to a reduction in their functions.

When you consume fiber-rich foods including beans and whole grains, the sugar in these foods gets absorbed slower and it prevents the blood glucose levels from going up, mentioned UCSF Benioff Children’s hospital.

The Healthline mentioned that dietary fiber helps reduce constipation, reduce your appetite, help you lose weight, reduce your cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.