a variety of fruits and vegetablesWhat can you do to reduce stroke risk? According to research from the Medical College of Qingdao University in China, eating fruits and vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of stroke. Stroke is the number four cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of death in China. The authors report that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables could cut stroke risk worldwide.

The researchers reviewed 20 stroke studies published in the last 19 years. The combined sample included 760,629 men and women and a total of 16,981 strokes. The research team analyzed the data from the studies, controlling for factors like blood pressure, physical activity levels, and alcohol consumption.

Eating just 200 grams (seven ounces) of fruits or vegetables decreased stroke risk. Eating 200 grams of fruits each day lowered stroke risk by 32% and eating 200 grams of vegetables each day lowered stroke risk by 11%. Fruits and vegetables may reduce stroke risk by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, or weight, all of which are risk factors for stroke.

Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables up to 600 grams each day could, according to World Health Organization estimates, cut the costs associated with strokes by 19% globally. Typically, low- and middle-income countries have lower fruit and vegetable consumption, making stroke a more serious risk.

“Improving diet and lifestyle is critical for heart and stroke risk reduction in the general population. In particular, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is highly recommended because it meets micronutrient and macronutrient fiber requirements without adding substantially to overall energy requirements,” explained Yan Qu, M.D., senior author of the study and director of the intensive care unit at Qingdao Municipal Hospital in Qingdao, China.

This research is published in the journal Stroke.

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