Scientists found that eating a high-fiber diet is linked to lower risks of early death and chronic diseases.
Carbohydrates are found in a wide array of both healthy and unhealthy foods—bread, beans, milk, popcorn, potatoes, cookies, spaghetti, soft drinks, corn, and cherry pie.
They also come in a variety of forms. The most common and abundant forms are sugars, fibers, and starches.
What’s most important is the type of carbohydrate you choose to eat because some sources are healthier than others.
The amount of carbohydrate in the diet – high or low – is less important than the type of carbohydrate in the diet.
In the study, the team did a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies that reported on indicators of carbohydrate quality and non-communicable disease incidence, mortality, and risk factors.
The team found a 15-30% decrease in all-cause and heart-related mortality, and incidence of coronary heart disease, stroke incidence and mortality, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer when comparing the highest dietary fiber consumers with the lowest consumers.
Just under 135 million person-years of data from 185 prospective studies and 58 clinical trials with 4635 adult participants were included in the analyses.
Clinical trials show significantly lower body weight, systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol when comparing higher with lower intakes of dietary fiber.
Risk reduction was greatest when the daily intake of dietary fiber was between 25 g and 29 g.
The finding suggested that higher intakes of dietary fiber could confer even greater benefits to protect against cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal and breast cancer.
Similar findings for whole-grain intake were observed. Smaller or no risk reductions were found with the observational data when comparing the effects of diets characterized by low rather than higher glycaemic index or load.
The certainty of the evidence for links between carbohydrate quality and critical outcomes was graded as moderate for dietary fiber, low to moderate for whole grains, and low to very low for dietary glycaemic index and glycaemic load.
These findings establish an evidence base for quantitative recommendations for intakes of dietary fiber.
The team says people need to increase dietary fiber intake and replace refined grains with whole grains to benefit health.
A major strength of the study was the ability to examine key indicators of carbohydrate quality in relation to a range of non-communicable diseases.
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