SYDNEY, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- A diet low in fiber can lead to high blood pressure, an international study co-led by Australia's Monash University revealed on Wednesday.
Using rodents to test the difference between high and low resistant starch diets, the results found that mice fed a low fiber diet were more predisposed to developing high blood pressure.
"The study is significant because it identifies for the first time, how dietary fiber directly regulates heart and blood vessel health," co-leader of the study Professor David Kaye, who is the Director of Cardiology at Australia's Alfred Hospital said.
"One of the most unique findings of the study is that the bacterial profile of the gut, called the gut microbiome, is closely associated with blood pressure, and this link is the result of chemicals released by gut bacteria into the circulation."
Often referred to as the silent disease, high blood pressure can lead to stroke, myocardial infarction, a stiffening of the arteries and muscles, as well as kidney problems if left untreated.
"High blood pressure continues to be a major risk factor for cardiovascular death," lead author Francine Marques from Monash University's School of Biological Sciences explained.
"A diet poor in fiber is associated with prevalence of high blood pressure, but this study is changing the concept of fiber intake being only protective: lack of fiber can actually contribute to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, and this happens via the gut microbiota."
But while researchers are pleased with the results, they also said that one thing still remains a mystery.
According to Professor Kaye, although it's now understood that a diet high in fiber may be protective towards the development of heart disease, the mechanism for this action continues to baffle scientists.