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Adding Fiber May Help Diabetics

Supplements shown to help regulate troublesome cholesterol

SATURDAY, April 30, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Fiber supplements may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes, according to the results of a new study.

Researchers found that fiber supplements lower levels of "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increase levels of "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in people with this type of diabetes.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related death. High blood cholesterol is considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and it already had been established that fiber supplements could help reduce blood cholesterol levels in the general population. That prompted the researchers, from Unicity International in Orem, Utah -- which makes and markets fiber supplements -- to investigate the effect of such supplements on people with type 2 diabetes.

Participants in the study -- 78 people with type 2 diabetes, who averaged 59 years of age -- took 10 grams to 15 grams daily of a fiber supplement. Their total blood cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, and HDL were measured at the start of the study and again after 90 days.

By the end of the study, total cholesterol had fallen from 215 mg/dL to 184 mg/dL, a 14.4 percent decrease. Triglycerides decreased from 299 mg/dL to 257 mg/dL (14 percent). LDL decreased from 129 mg/dL to 92 mg/dL (28.7 percent). HDL increased from 43 mg/dL to 55 mg/dL, up 21.8 percent.

"The remarkable observation is that this works on two sides: it decreased LDL and increased HDL by significant amounts at 90 days," study lead author Peter J. Verdegem, chief science officer at Unicity, said in a prepared statement. "This approach is virtually free of side effects. It opens up an alternative treatment option," he explained.

"With a normal pharmaceutical intervention, you see a decrease in LDL but not an increase in HDL to these levels," he said. "It is usually only a one-sided effect."

The study was scheduled to be presented Saturday at the American Heart Association's annual conference on cardiovascular disease, epidemiology and prevention.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about fiber.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, April 30, 2005
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