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Nutr Hosp. 2012 Jan-Feb;27(1):31-45. doi: 10.1590/S0212-16112012000100005.

Dietary fibre and cardiovascular health.

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Departamento de Nutrición y Bromatología I (Nutrición), Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, España.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in developed countries. CVD is an inflammatory disease associated with risk factors that include hypercholesterolemia and hypertension. Furthermore, the evolution of this disease depends on the amount of modified lipoproteins (e.g. oxidized) present in the arterial subendothelium. Diet is considered the cornerstone for CVD treatment, as it can lower not only atherogenic lipoprotein levels and degree of oxidation, but also blood pressure, thrombogenesis and concentrations of some relevant factors (e.g. homocystein).Among different diets, the Mediterranean diet stands out due to their benefits on several health benefits, in particular with regard to CVD. Rich in vegetable foods, this diet contributes both quantitatively and qualitatively to essential fibre compounds (cellulose, hemicellulose, gums, mucilages, pectins, oligosaccharides, lignins, etc.). The present paper analyzes the effects of fibre consumption on a) cholesterol and lipoprotein levels; b) systolic and diastolic blood pressures; and c) antioxidant availability and profile. Some studies and meta-analysis are revised, as the possible mechanisms by which fibre may decrease plasma total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol and blood pressure and to act as antioxidant, as well. In addition, author's own publications regarding the effect of fibre matrix (e.g. seaweeds) on arylesterase and the gene expression of some key antioxidant enzymes are reviewed. The paper also includes data concerning the possible interaction between fibre and some hypolipemic drugs, which may make it possible to attain similar hypolipemic effects with lower dosages, with the consequent decrease in possible side effects. The review concludes with a summary of nutritional objectives related to the consumption of carbohydrates and fibre supplements.

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