A fiber-rich diet appears to help people with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes in multiple ways, lowering their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, a new study suggests.
High blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes raise the risk for heart disease, and diet may help keep it at bay, researchers say.
"This study helps us determine three important things for this patient population," said lead author Dr. Rohit Kapoor, medical director of Care Well Heart and Super Specialty Hospital in Amritsar, India.
"Firstly, a high-fiber diet is important in cases of diabetes and hypertension to prevent future cardiovascular disease," Kapoor said in a news release from the American College of Cardiology.
"Secondly, medical nutrition therapy and regular counseling sessions also hold great importance in treating and prevention of diabetes and hypertension," he added.
Thirdly, this type of diet in combination with medical treatment can improve lipid levels, pulse wave velocity [a measure of arterial stiffness], waist-to-hip ratio and high blood pressure, Kapoor said.
For the study, Kapoor's team tracked fiber consumption among 200 participants over six months. Patients sent photos of their meals on WhatsApp and engaged in phone calls three times a week during which they were asked to recall their diet.
The study found that those participants eating a high-fiber diet showed significant improvement in several risk factors, including a 9% reduction in cholesterol, 23% reduction in triglycerides, 15% reduction in systolic (top number) blood pressure and a 28% reduction in blood sugar.
Foods high in fiber include fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts.
The study results were scheduled to be presented Thursday at an American College of Cardiology meeting, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
For more on type 2 diabetes, head to the American Diabetes Association.