A dietary fibre called guar gum can reduce cholesterol levels by up to 26 per cent, new research has discovered.

The cholesterol-lowering abilities of the gum have been noted before, but had never been scientifically tested with a double-blind placebo study. Earlier, and less formal, tests had shown the gum reduced cholesterol by up to 20 per cent.

A research team from the University Hospital in Tampere, Finland tested the gum on a group of 40 people, half given a placebo and the rest given 5g of the granulated gum three times a day. The group given the gum for two years had levels of cholesterol that were between 17 per cent and 26 per cent lower.

Researchers felt that a daily intake of 15g of gum was adequate, and no adverse effects were reported except one case of diarrhea; a similar case was also reported in the placebo group (BMJ, January 14, 1995).

Fresh fruits and vegetables may help people with lung disease as well as those with heart problems. Mounting research is showing some link between diet and lung problems. Researchers feel it could be the antioxidant qualities of the foods that help sufferers, even if they smoke.

The connection was first made in an American study in 1990, which also indicated that high serum concentrations of vitamin C helped to protect against respiratory problems. More recent research has also suggested that daily intake of magnesium can help wheeziness.

M K Sridhar, a research fellow at the University of Glasgow, suggests the day may soon be approaching when doctors advise people with a higher risk of lung disease such as smokers and those from a family with a history of asthma to start adding more vegetables and fruit to their diets

!ABMJ, January 14, 1995.

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