Dietary fibre critical in managing hypertension, international study finds - Monash University

9 Apr 2024 9:08 AM

High blood pressure, or hypertension, remains a global health concern, contributing to 19 per cent of deaths worldwide.

In a ground-breaking international review led by Monash University scientists and published today in Hypertension, biologists highlight the pivotal role of dietary fibre in managing hypertension and reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, and call for the inclusion of dietary fibre in clinical guidelines for hypertension.

The review sheds light on the often-overlooked importance of dietary fibre in blood pressure management.

"Despite numerous guidelines recommending lifestyle modifications as first-line treatment for hypertension, specific recommendations regarding fibre intake have been notably absent,” said lead study author Associate Professor Francine Marques from the Monash University School of Biological Sciences.

"Dietary fibre has emerged as a crucial yet underappreciated part of hypertension management," she said.

"Our comprehensive analysis emphasises the evidence supporting the effectiveness of dietary fibre in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular events."

The findings of the review have significant implications for public health initiatives and future hypertension guidelines.

By recognising the vital role of dietary fibre, healthcare professionals can take proactive steps to address hypertension and promote cardiovascular health.

The review outlines a number of findings, including:

The Impact of Fibre on Blood Pressure: Meta-analyses have shown that higher intake of dietary fibre is associated with a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, independent of pharmacological interventions. Each additional 5 grams of fibre per day is estimated to reduce systolic blood pressure by 2.8 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.1 mmHg.

Gut Microbiota: Dietary fibre promotes cardiovascular health through various mechanisms, including modulation of gut microbiota and the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs produce anti-inflammatory effects and regulate immune function, contributing to reduced blood pressure.

Challenges and Recommendations: Despite the clear benefits of dietary fibre, global intake remains insufficient, with the average consumption hovering around 11 grams per day. The review provides evidence-based recommendations, suggesting a minimum daily intake of >28g/day for women and >38g/day for men to effectively manage hypertension.

The review also provides resources for medical teams and patients of what foods to prioritise to increase fibre intake and reach their recommendations.

"Our study highlights the urgent need for healthcare providers to prioritise dietary fibre as vital for hypertension management," Associate Professor Marques said.

"By incorporating dietary fibre into treatment plans and empowering patients to increase their intake, we can significantly reduce the burden of hypertension and improve cardiovascular outcomes."

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