Long-term effect of dietary fiber in hypercholesterolemia - adapted from the American Journal of Med

Date: May 15, 1995

No studies have convincingly demonstrated that increasing dietary intake of fiber is effective in lowering cholesterol levels. Previous studies have been limited by short duration and inadequate control of confounding variables. Hunninghake and colleagues performed a placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the effect of fiber supplementation on hypercholesterolemia.

Fifty-nine study subjects who had previously completed a nine-week Step I diet (30 percent fat) were randomized into three groups. For 15 weeks, the first group received placebo, the second group received 10 g per day of fiber supplementation, and the third group received 20 g per day of fiber supplementation. From week 16 to week 51, all groups received 20 g per day of fiber supplementation. Baseline characteristics that were evaluated included body weight and a food record rating score; no significant differences in these variables existed among the three groups.

At the end of 51 weeks, all groups had significant decreases from baseline in levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and in the ratio of low-density lipoprotein to high-density lipoprotein. No changes were observed in high-density lipoprotein or triglyceride levels. Maximum change was seen at 15 weeks of treatment, and only very slight additional benefit was conferred by increasing fiber from 10 g to 20 g in members of the second group. In all of the treatment groups, body weight and food record rating scores did not differ significantly between values obtained at baseline and those obtained at 51 weeks.

The authors conclude that fiber supplementation is beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels and that this benefit is maintained over a long period of time. (American Journal of Medicine, December 1994, vol. 97, p. 504.)

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