Fruits and veggies may cut stroke risk worldwide

Fruits and veggies may cut stroke risk worldwide

Fruits and veggies may cut stroke risk worldwide

Eating fruits and vegetables regularly can dramatically slash the risk of stroke worldwide, according to new research.

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 20 studies published over the last 19 years to assess the effects of fruit and vegetable consumption on risk of stroke globally. The combined studies involved 760,629 men and women who had 16,981 strokes.

Stroke risk decreased by 32 per cent with every 200 grams of fruit consumed each day and 11 per cent with every 200 grams of vegetables consumed each day.

"Improving diet and lifestyle is critical for heart and stroke risk reduction in the general population," said Yan Qu, the study's senior author, professor at the Medical College of Qingdao University in Qingdao, China.

"In particular, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is highly recommended because it meets micronutrient and macronutrient and fibre requirements without adding substantially to overall energy requirements," said Yan.

Macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) provide calories or energy. Our bodies need smaller amounts of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

Researchers cited studies demonstrating that high fruit and vegetable consumption can lower blood pressure and improve microvascular function. It has favourable effects on body mass index, waist circumference, cholesterol, inflammation and oxidative stress.

The beneficial effects of fruits and vegetables applied consistently to men and women, stroke outcome and by type of stroke (caused by clot or bleeding).

Researchers found no significant difference in the effect on age (younger or older than 55).

They adjusted the study findings for factors such as smoking, alcohol, blood pressure, cholesterol, physical activity, body mass index and other dietary variables.

Researchers combined the results of six studies from the US, eight from Europe and six from Asia (China and Japan).

They noted that low fruit and vegetable consumption is prevalent worldwide, and especially in low- and middle-income countries.

A diet rich in a variety of colours and types of vegetables and fruits is a way of getting important nutrients that most people don't get enough of, including vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre. They are also naturally low in saturated fat, researchers said.

The study was published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke.