Fruits and veggies can lower women’s risk for a stroke by 50%!
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Among women who did have a history of cardiovascular disease, those whose diets included a high level of antioxidants had a 46-57% lower risk of stroke.
WHAT WE KNOW
More women than men suffer strokes. In 2006, women accounted for about 60 percent of stroke deaths. Of every 10 deaths from stroke, six (6) occur in women!
The most important risk factors for stroke are hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, diabetes and cigarette smoking. Other factors that increase the risk of having a stroke include heavy alcohol consumption, high cholesterol levels, migraines, illicit drug use and genetic or congenital conditions.
While fruits and vegetables have always been part of a heart-healthy diet, researchers have uncovered yet another reason for you to eat your veggies—a direct link between antioxidant-rich vegetables, fruits and grains can significantly lower stroke risk among women, according to a new study.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
A Swedish study, which appears in the December 1, 2011 edition of the journal Stroke, involved more than 31,000 women without heart disease and almost 5,700 women with a history of heart disease. The study targeted women, ages 49-83. The heart disease-free group was followed for an average of 11.5 years and the heart disease group was followed for almost 10 years. A food-frequency questionnaire was completed by participants in the study each year.
Among women with no history of heart disease, those with the highest levels of diet-based antioxidants had a 17% lower risk of stroke than those with the lowest levels.
Benefits extended to women who’d already suffered heart disease. Among this group, women with higher levels of dietary antioxidant capacity had up to a 57% lower risk of hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke compared to those with the lowest levels.
According to the study authors, fruits and vegetables contributed about 50% of antioxidant capacity.*
Just remember that fruits and vegetables are part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Make sure you’re eating a variety of fruits and vegetables to give your body the best recipe of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds to promote a long life.
Consuming a diet that meets your recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day – along with adequate exercise – is one of the best ways to build a strong defense against heart disease and other diseases in the future. While some diseases are not preventable, eating your fruits and vegetables helps remove free radicals that can cause mutations and cell damage throughout your body.
New experimental studies are emerging that demonstrate multiple effects of fruits and vegetables and their phytochemicals, suggesting that fruits and vegetables may have an even greater role to play in human health than the already positive results seen to date. So, enjoy your fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors and forms at each and every eating occasion!
* Rautiainen, S., S. Larsson, J. Virtamo, & A. Wolk. “Total Antioxidant Capacity of Diet and Risk of Stroke: A Population-Based Prospective Cohort of Women.” Stroke (2011) doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.635557