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Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (
April 2012

Fiber Intake Linked to Reduced Heart Disease Risk

High fiber intake may be linked to a lower risk of heart disease in both men and women, a new study reports.

Whole grains, such as barley, are high in fiber. Barley is a cereal grain used as a staple food in many countries. It is commonly used as an ingredient in baked products and soup in Europe and the United States. Barley malt is used to make beer and as a natural sweetener called malt sugar or barley jelly sugar. Barley has high fiber content.

Recent data suggest that barley may be promising in reducing total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol in patients with mildly elevated cholesterol and in reducing the risk of heart disease. Although not well studied in humans, barley may also protect against cancer.

In a new study, researchers recruited 8,139 men and 12,535 women between 44 and 73 years-old who had no history of heart disease or diabetes. The participants answered a questionnaire and were interviewed about their diet history.

At the 13.5-year follow-up, the scientists identified 1,089 cases of heart disease in men and 687 cases in women. The researchers found that high fiber consumption was associated with a lower overall risk of developing heart disease in women and ischemic stroke in men.

According to the researchers, the findings suggested that higher fiber intake may benefit heart health and prevent disease development in both men and women. However, more high-quality studies are required to confirm these findings.

Heart disease is a condition that affects the heart muscle or the blood vessels of the heart. There are many different types of heart disease, but the most common is coronary artery disease (CAD). This condition causes the arteries to narrow, and it may lead to stroke or heart attack. Heart disease is potentially life threatening.

For more information about integrative therapies for heart disease, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness Database.

For more information about barley or other whole grains, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
  2. Wallström P, Sonestedt E, Hlebowicz J, et al. Dietary fiber and saturated fat intake associations with cardiovascular disease differ by sex in the Malmö Diet and Cancer Cohort: a prospective study. PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31637. View Abstract
The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited.