High-fiber diet keeps people from chewing the fat

provided by American Heart Association

dding two bowls of high-fiber cereal a day may be an easy way for Americans to reduce their fat intake, according to research presented here today at the American Heart Association dietary conference on fatty acids.

Researchers found that men who ate two servings of a high-fiber cereal per day made spontaneous changes to their diets that easily brought them in line with American Heart Association guidelines for fat and cholesterol consumption.

Brenda M. Davy, MS, RD, who reported the study at a conference on Dietary Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Health says, "It's really a very simple message. Two servings of high-fiber cereal each day, such as oatmeal or cold cereals with oat bran or wheat fiber, can replace foods that are high in fat and cause an overall improvement in an individual's diet." Davy is a research dietitian in the department of food science and human nutrition at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.

The 36 men, ages 55 to 75, ate two medium-sized servings of cereal containing a total of 14 grams of fiber. They ate one serving of the cereal for breakfast and the second as a snack later in the day. Half the men in the study ate oat cereal that was high in soluble fiber and the other half ate wheat cereal that is high in insoluble fiber. Both groups of men experienced comparable changes in dietary fat, fiber and cholesterol consumption. However, an earlier analysis of the men found that those eating the oat cereal experienced more beneficial changes to their blood lipid profiles compared to those eating wheat cereal.

The two servings of high-fiber cereal increased the men's daily fiber intake from an average of 20 grams to an average 30 grams. This was done without any significant increase in total calories, according to Davy. In addition, the men reduced their daily fat intake by about 10 percent - from 91 grams to 82 grams of fat per day. Saturated fat intake decreased significantly to less than 10 percent of total calories.

Average intake of dietary cholesterol decreased 20 percent from an average of 347 milligrams a day to 239 per day. The American Heart Association recommends a daily dietary cholesterol intake of 300 mg. or less.

"Encouraging people to eat fiber-rich cereal may be a simple, yet effective strategy to produce global improvements in diet," Davy says. "When dietitians are working with clients we give them a lot of information. All of those numbers can be overwhelming and people may not know how to make the necessary dietary changes.

"This analysis shows that merely increasing your fiber intake may be an easy way to achieve those dietary recommendations."

Although researchers did not ask the men to make any dietary changes other than adding the high-fiber cereal, they suspected the cereal would displace other foods.

"High-fiber cereal is very filling," Davy says. "Once they began eating the two daily servings of high-fiber cereal, the men reported eating fewer fatty foods such as omelets, breakfast sandwiches, bagels with cream cheese and breakfast pastries. And many of them reported that they'd replaced their after-dinner ice cream snack with the cereal snack."

Many of the men in the study complained that eating the cereal each day became monotonous after 12 weeks, but on the positive side they also said it was easy to follow and compliance averaged about 95 percent, Davy says.

A diet high in saturated fat has been linked to increases in blood cholesterol levels that can lead to atherosclerosis, a fatty buildup in the arterial walls that increases a person's risk of a heart attack or stroke. To reduce that risk, the American Heart Association recommends that individuals limit their consumption of saturated fat to no more than 8 percent to 10 percent of total calories and their daily total fat intake to no more than 30 percent of calories.