Limit Your Stroke Risk with Delicious and Nutritious Fruits and Vegetables

About 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic, which occur when a blood clot or ruptured blood vessel blocks blood flow to part of your brain. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. Unless you receive emergency care, a stroke can lead to severe brain damage, paralysis or death. Stroke is a serious health threat. Many Americans are at risk for having a stroke or are suffering from one of its factors that can lead to additional health concerns.

A fresh look at nearly two decades of evidence shows that increased fruit and vegetable consumption lowers stroke risk. Unfortunately, the researchers also noted that produce intake tends to be insufficient globally, especially in low- to middle-income countries. According to the CDC, American adults eat only 1.1 fruits and 1.6 vegetables a day on average. That’s less than half of the five combined daily servings that organizations like the CDC and the American Heart Association recommend

Are You Aware of these Alarming Facts?

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 795,000 Americans have strokes each year. Of these, 610,000 or 76 percent are first-time or new strokes. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are major risk factors. About half of Americans (49 percent) have at least one of these three contributing conditions. Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability.

Nearly 130,000 Americans die from strokes annually. That’s about one in every 19 deaths. On average, one American dies from a stroke every four minutes. This major health concern costs the U.S. economy over $36 billion per year. That total includes the expenses of health care services, stroke medications, and missed workdays.

Risks Vary by Race, Ethnicity and Age

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death for Americans, but the chances of having a stroke vary with race and ethnicity. The danger is nearly twice as high for African-Americans as it is for Caucasians, and this minority is more likely to die following strokes than whites. Hispanics’ risk falls between these two groups. American Indians, Alaska Natives, and blacks have a greater tendency to have suffered previous strokes than other races.

Because stroke chances increase as people grow older, it’s a major threat to the elderly. But strokes can and do occur at any age. About 34 percent of stroke victims requiring hospitalization are younger than 65 years old.

Avoid Strokes by Frequenting the Produce Section

To understand the relationship between stroke risk and plants in the diet better, investigators searched for reports over the past 19 years that tracked the eating habits and health of men and women around the world. Their new review of 20 studies found that eating 7 ounces (200 grams) of fruit a day — the equivalent of two small apples — can cut your stroke risk by almost one-third. Your stroke likelihood drops 11 percent for every 7 ounces of vegetables you consume daily. Produce consumption proved to prevent both blood clots and ruptured blood vessels from causing strokes.

According to the meta-analysis published in the American Heart Association’s Stroke journal, these findings held up even when the researchers accounted for potential confounding factors. These included smoking, alcohol, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body mass index, and physical activity. The results were the same for both men and women as well as in participants both younger and older than age 55.

Study author Dr. Yan Qu of Qingdao Municipal Hospital and Medical College of Qingdao University in Qingdao, China, advocates a diet rich in fruits and vegetables “because it meets micronutrient and macronutrient and fiber requirements without adding substantially to overall energy requirements.” He noted that the research linked citrus fruits, apples, pears, and leafy vegetables in particular to reduced stroke risk.

Produce lowered blood pressure and systemic body inflammation as well as yielding improvements to microvascular function, body mass index, cholesterol ratios, and oxidative stress. The research team also found that subjects who also controlled other risk factors — such as weight, overall diet, and smoking — had the lowest chances of having strokes. Experts Support Meta-Analysis Findings Nutrition authorities not involved with the study commended the research for offering extra incentives to load up on natural, healthy, plant-based foods. Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, said, “This study delivers a very clear message: more vegetables and fruits in your diet equal less risk of stroke in your lifetime. Period.” Keith Ayoob, a registered dietitian at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, noted that the study made him very confident to encourage patients — whether they’re 7 or 70 years old — to eat lots of produce throughout their entire lives.

Past research showed that consuming fruits and vegetables can lower your blood pressure, body mass index, total cholesterol, and total body inflammation — all factors that can lead to stroke. The World Health Organization estimated that the global stroke rate could drop by 19 percent if every person ate 20 ounces of fruits and vegetables per day.

Stroke Treatments

Blood thinners like Plavix that prevent blood clots are the most common stroke treatment. You also can avoid strokes by taking care of your body and health with smart lifestyle choices. So consider fruits and vegetables to be great-tasting, prescription-free medicine. Make life easier by ordering all of your medications and over-the-counter remedies from Canada Drug Pharmacy.