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Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Dec;78(6):1085-91.

Dietary fiber and progression of atherosclerosis: the Los Angeles Atherosclerosis Study.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.



Several epidemiologic studies found weak protective relations between dietary fiber intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease events. However, few of the studies addressed possible mechanisms of the effect.


In the present study, we estimated relations between the progression of atherosclerosis and the intake of selective dietary fiber fractions. Mediation of the relations by serum lipids was also investigated.


Participants who were free of heart disease and aged 40-60 y were recruited into the cohort (n = 573; 47% women). The intima-media thickness (IMT) of the common carotid arteries was measured ultrasonographically at the baseline examination and at 2 follow-up examinations (n = 500), dietary intakes were assessed with six 24-h recalls (3 at baseline and 3 at the first follow-up examination), and blood samples were analyzed at baseline and at both follow-up examinations.


A significant inverse association was observed between IMT progression and the intakes of viscous fiber (P = 0.05) and pectin (P = 0.01). Correction for measurement error increased the magnitude of these estimated effects. The ratio of total to HDL cholesterol was inversely related to the intakes of total fiber (P = 0.01), viscous fiber (P = 0.05), and pectin (P = 0.01). The magnitude of the association between IMT progression and the intakes of viscous fiber and pectin was attenuated by adjustment for serum lipids.


The intake of viscous fiber, especially pectin, appears to protect against IMT progression. Serum lipids may act as a mediator between dietary fiber intake and IMT progression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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