Eating more fruits and vegetables might reduce the risk of stroke worldwide, according to a new meta-analysis.
Researchers in China conducted a meta-analysis of 20 studies published during the past 19 years to assess the effects of fruit and vegetable consumption on risk of stroke globally. The findings were published May 8 on the website of the American Heart Associations journal Stroke.
Six studies came from the U.S., eight from Europe and six from Asia (China and Japan). The combined studies included 760,629 men and women who had 16,981 strokes.
In China, stroke is the leading cause of death, with an estimated 1.7 million people dying in 2010. In the U.S., stroke is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of disability.
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 study found.
Improving diet and lifestyle is critical for heart and stroke risk reduction in the general population, the studys senior author, Yan Qu, MD, director of the ICU at Qingdao Municipal Hospital and professor at the Medical College of Qingdao University in Qingdao, China, said in a news release. In particular, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is highly recommended because it meets micronutrient and macronutrient and fiber requirements without adding substantially to overall energy requirements.
Macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) provide calories or energy. People need smaller amounts of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
The researchers cited studies demonstrating 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.
Researchers found 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). Their findings showed no significant difference in the effect based on age (younger or older than 55).
Study findings were adjusted for factors such as smoking, alcohol, blood pressure, cholesterol, physical activity, body mass index and other dietary variables.
The researchers note low fruit and vegetable consumption is prevalent worldwide, and especially in low- and middle-income countries. Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables up to 600 grams each day could reduce the burden of ischemic stroke by 19 percent globally, according to the World Health Organization.
The Qingdao Municipal Hospital funded the study.
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