More fruits, veggies can lower stroke risk worldwide
Americans simply don’t get enough fruits and vegetables in their diet. New research, however, may spur them to get better about it. A new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke reveals that eating more fruits and veggies may reduce the risk of stroke worldwide.
The study, published online in early May, found that for every 200 grams of fruit eaten daily, stroke risk decreased by 32 percent, while for every 200 grams of veggies eaten daily, stroke risk decreased by 11 percent.
“A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is highly recommended because it meets micronutrient, macronutrient and fiber requirements without adding substantially to overall energy requirements,” explained lead study author Dr. Yan Qu in a statement. Dr. Qu is director of the intensive care unit at Qingdao Municipal Hospital in China.
The energy our bodies need from calories comes from macronutrients, by way of carbs, proteins and fat. Our bodies receive vitamins and minerals from smaller amounts of micronutrients.
“In addition to vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables contain a variety of phytochemicals that are beneficial in decreasing the risk of any number of diseases,” explains Catherine LaBella, registered dietitian at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.
“So often we focus on telling people what not to eat, but we need to remember that just increasing some foods that are hopefully already in the diet can be just as effective in promoting good health,” she says.
Researchers performed an analysis of 20 studies published over the past 19 years to determine the effects of fruit and vegetable consumption on stroke risk globally. Participants in the combined studies included nearly 800,000 men and women from the United States, Europe and Asia who had close to 17,000 strokes.
The studies cited found that eating high amounts of fruits and veggies can reduce blood pressure and improve microvascular function. It also produced positive effects on body mass index, cholesterol, inflammation, waist circumference and oxidative stress (the body’s ability to fight free radicals).
According to the World Health Organization, increasing the consumption of fruits and veggies up to 600 grams daily could cut ischemic stroke by 19 percent across the globe.
The American Heart Association recommends four to five daily servings each of fruits and vegetables for the average adult, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
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