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Eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce stroke risk

May 26, 2014

A new review concludes that a diet with a lot of vitamin-rich vegetables and fruits may significantly contribute to decrease the risk suffering a stroke.

The meta-analysis included 20 observational studies from Europe, the US and Asia assessing the potential effects of fruit and vegetable consumption on stroke prevention globally, involving a total of 760,629 parti- cipants (1). The analysis showed – after adjusting the results for factors such as smoking, alcohol, blood pressure, cholesterol, physical activity, body mass index and other dietary variables – that stroke risk decreased by 32% with every 200 grams of fruit consumed each day and 11% with every 200 grams of vegetables consumed each day. The beneficial effects of fruits and vegetables applied consistently to men and women, independent from age (younger or older than 55), stroke outcome and by type of stroke (caused by clot or bleeding).

The researchers noted that low fruit and vegetable con- sumption is prevalent worldwide. Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables up to 600 grams each day could reduce the burden of ischemic stroke by 19% globally, according to the World Health Organization (2). High fruit and vegetable consumption can lower blood pressure and improve microvascular function. It has favorable effects on body mass index, waist circumference, cholesterol, inflammation and oxidative stress, the scientists explained. In contrast, the Euro- pean Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that a cause and effect relationship cannot be established bet- ween the consumption of fruits and vegetables and the risk of developing chronic diseases (3). In China, stroke is the leading cause of death, with an estimated 1.7 million people dying in 2010. In the United States, stroke is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of disability.

References

  1. Hu D. et al. Fruits and Vegetables Consumption and Risk of Stroke: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. Stroke. Published online May 2014.
  2. Bazzano L. A. Dietary intake of fruit and vegetables and risk of diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases. World Health Organization. 2005.
  3. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to fruits and/or vegetables and to the “Mediterranean diet” pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal. 2011; 9(6):2245 [19 pp.].