Swedish researchers recently conducted a study that looked at fruit and vegetable consumption and stroke risk. Fruits and vegetables contain a huge portion of the nutrients that you need for a healthy heart, such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals (in the form of antioxidants), dietary fiber, and carotenoids.
To assess just how much eating fruits and veggies could impact the heart health of men and women, the Swiss research team followed 74,961 people starting way back in 1997. Over the course of many years, the researchers collected data regarding the participants’ dietary habits. None of the participants showed signs of heart disease or cancer at the outset of the study and none had suffered a stroke.
In the end, over 4,000 people suffered a stroke before the study’s conclusion. The researchers got to work running the numbers to compare fruit and vegetable intake with stroke risk. Here’s what they found: the relative risk of having a stroke was cut almost in half for people with the highest consumption of fruits and vegetables. There was one caveat, however: this was true only for those who weren’t suffering from hypertension throughout the study.
Were there any fruits and vegetables that stood out when it came to protecting the heart? According to the researchers, a diet rich in apples, pears, and green leafy vegetables was the best for preventing strokes.
Let’s take a quick look at the healing nutrients you’ll be getting when you eat an apple, pear, or leafy greens. Apples contain phytonutrients and fiber in the form of pectin that get to work regulating blood fat levels. Anything that regulates your fat levels is going to play an important role in preventing heart disease. As for pears, they too have a lot of fiber—mostly in the skin—that contains an abundance of phenolic phytonutrients. Some of these phytonutrients act as antioxidants to protect heart tissue and some act as anti-inflammatories, reducing wear and tear on the mechanisms of your heart.
As for green leafy vegetables, suffice it to say, they’ve got your heart covered! These superfoods target all areas of the heart and play multiple roles in protecting it.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Larsson, S.C., et al, “Total and specific fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of stroke: A prospective study,” Atherosclerosis. March 2013; 227(1): 147-52.