Improve Your Heart Health Today With Minor Diet Changes

A new study shows that it's never too late to change your diet and improve your heart health, and that the changes you make to your diet don't have to be drastic.

We know high fiber is good for you, but a published study in The Journal of the American Medical Association is the first to look at what kind of fiber is best to prevent cardiovascular disease in people over age 65.

Cardiovascular disease can lead to heart attack or stroke, and is the leading cause of death and disability among older people.

"Our study suggests that even if you're over age 65, your diet can influence your health and that if you eat fiber from whole grains, bran and cereals, you may reduce your risk of a first heart attack or stroke," Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian said.

Dr. Mozaffarian is a fellow at the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and University of Washington. He worked with colleagues from three other institutions around the country studying nine years of health data on more than 3,500 elderly people.

Their research shows that people who ate dark breads, such as wheat, rye and pumpernickel, and high fiber breakfast cereals, lowered their risk of heart attack or stroke.

"Interestingly, we saw the lower risk without a large amount of fiber intake. For example, if people ate approximately two slices of whole grain bread per day, they had a 15 percent lower risk. People eating even more fiber had an even lower risk" said Dr. Mozaffarian.

That's good news for folks who've always eaten whole grains and high fiber cereal and good news for those who haven't eaten this kind of fiber before. Those folks can still change their diet and start reducing their risk of heart attack and stroke.

The American Heart Association suggests eating a variety of food fiber sources. The Heart Association says fiber is important for the health of the digestive system and for lowering cholesterol.