Every health practitioner and researcher agrees that stroke
prevention with fruits and vegetables is the most sensible strategy that
we could adopt. But the questions are:
How do fruits and vegetables help us in preventing stroke?
Which fruits and vegetables are the best at stroke prevention?
Over two decades ago, researchers discovered that eating fruits and vegetables prevented strokes and diminished the damage if they occurred.
British researchers at Cambridge University discovered that older people who ate the most fresh green vegetables and fresh fruits were less likely to die of strokes.
A Norwegian study found that men who ate the most vegetables had a 45% lower risk of stroke.
It also found that women who ate lots of fruit were 1/3 less likely to have a stroke.
The dramatic finding of a recent large-scale Harvard study that tracked nearly 90,000 women nurses for eight years confirmed those earlier findings.
They found that eating carrots five times a week or more could slush your risk of stroke by an astounding 2/3 or 68% compared with eating carrots only once a month or less!
Spinach was also a particularly potent stroke deterrent.
Part of the protection comes from beta carotene in carrots and spinach.
A previous Harvard study found that eating the extra beta carotene in about one and a half carrots, 3/4 of a cup of mashed sweet potatoes or three cups of cooked spinach every day shaved 40% off stroke rates.
The drop was evident in those who ate 15 to 20 mg of beta carotene daily versus those who ate only 6 mg.
What makes carrots, spinach and other such carotene-rich vegetables so good at stroke prevention is probably their antioxidant activity, speculated lead reasercher JoAnn E. Manson, M.D. of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
The carotene inhibits cholesterol from becoming toxic and able to form plaque and clots in arteries, she theorized.
More remarkable is new research showing how important it is to have lots of beta carotene and other vitamin A in your bloodstream should you suffer a stroke.
The vitamin may prevent your death or disability from the stroke, according to Belgian researchers at the University of Brussels, who analyzed the blood of 80 patients within 24 hours after they had suffered strokes.
They discovered that stroke patients with above-average amounts of vitamin A, including beta carotene, had more chances to survive, were more likeky to have less neurological damage and recover completely!
How is that possible?
When your brain is deprived of oxygen, as in a stroke, cells begin to mulfunction, leading to a series of events culminating in oxidative damage to nerve cells leading to their death.
But if you have lots of vitamin A in your blood, researchers speculate, it can interfere at many different stages of this cascade of events, lessening brain damage and chances of death.
Foods rich in beta carotene - which converts in the body into vitamin A - in addition to carrots are dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, collards and kale, as well as dark orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes and pumpkin.
Further Reading: Beta Carotene - A Powerful Ally In Our Fight Against Free Radicals
Such foods are also high in potassium, another potent antitode against strokes.
Eating just one extra serving of potassium-rich foods every day may reduce your risk of stroke by 40%.
That's what researchers discovered by analizing the diets of a group of 859 men and women over age 50, living in southern California.
The investigators documentd that a small difference of potassium in the diet predicted who would die of a stroke twelve years later.
Remakably, nobody with the highest intake of potassium (more than 3,500 mg a day) died of a stroke.
However, those who regularly ate the least potassium (less than 1,950 mg per day) had much higher fatal stroke rates than all the others.
Among those who skimped the most on potassium, the odds of stroke deaths shot up 2.6 times in men and 4.8 times in women.
Further, the more potassium-rich foods the subjects ate, generally, the fewer strokes they had.
Researchers concluded that with every extra daily 400 mg. of potassium in food, the odds of a fatal stroke dropped 40%! One very good reason to adopt stroke prevention with fruits and vegetables!
We know that high potassium foods help lower blood pressure, but potassium exhibits additional powers in stroke prevention regardless of its effect on blood pressure, according to University of Minnesota hypertension expert Dr. Loius Tobian, Jr.
In tests, he fed rats that had high blood pressure either a high-potassium diet or a "normal" potassium diet.
Forty percent on the "normal" potassium diet suffered small strokes, evidenced by bleeding in the brain.
No brain haemorrhages occured in rats on high potassium.
Dr. Tobian's theory is that extra potassium kept artery walls elastic and functioning normally, thus immunizing blood vessels against damage from high blood pressure.
The same thing may happen in humans.
The critical margin of 400 mg. of potassium is so modest that there's no reason for not including any of the above fruits and vegetables in your diet.
If you think that it can protect your brain from the devastating and often irrevesible effects of stroke, wouldn't it be worth it to eat every day an extra quarter of a cantaloupe, half an avocado, one small baked potato, ten dried apricots or half cup baked beans?
As the causes of stroke are the same as the causes of heart disease and high blood pressure, the foods that help prevent these conditions are also indicated for preventing strokes.
Articles in This Series:
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A wonderful antioxidant that can help prevent oxidation of cholesterol