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Study: Elderly eat fiber, cut heart risk

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CHICAGO, Illinois (Reuters) -- Older people who eat just two slices of whole wheat bread or a helping of high-fiber cereal daily can lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers said on Tuesday.

Eating dark breads or cereal high in fiber lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease in a group of adults aged 65 or older by 21 percent compared to those with the lowest cereal fiber consumption, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"While the observed difference in risk was not large, it was seen with a fairly modest difference in dietary intake," wrote study author Dariush Mozaffarian of the University of Washington.

Even a modest dietary change equivalent to two slices of whole wheat bread a day lowered the risk of disease.

The report said dark breads such as wheat, rye or pumpernickel were more effective in cutting cardiovascular risk than other sources of cereal fiber.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability among older adults, the report said, but even a change in diet late in life can lessen a person's risk.

"Compared with medical or surgical interventions, nutritional changes are relatively low risk, low cost, and widely available," Mozaffarian said.

At the start of the study, none of the 3,588 men and women had cardiovascular disease. The study, which tracked subjects for a mean of nine years, adjusted for variables such as age, sex, diabetes, smoking, exercise, alcohol intake, and fruit and vegetable consumption.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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