A meta-analysis of 20 studies published over the last 19 years was conducted in Asia, Europe and the United States. They assessed the effects of fruit and vegetable consumption on risk of stroke globally from six combined studies involving 760,629 men and women who had 16,981 strokes. They adjusted the study findings for factors such as smoking, alcohol, cholesterol, blood pressure, physical activity, body mass index and other dietary variables.
- Stroke risk decreased by 32 percent with every 200 grams of fruit consumed each day and 11 percent with every 200 grams of vegetables consumed each day.
- 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.
- Low fruit and vegetable consumption is prevalent worldwide especially in low and middle-income countries.
Improving diet and lifestyle is critical for heart and stroke risk reduction in the general population, said study author Yan Qu, M.D., director of the intensive care unit at Qingdaqo Municipal Hospital and 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, macronutrient and fiber requirements without adding substantially to overall energy requirements.
The author cited studies demonstrating that high fruit and vegetable consumption can lower blood pressure and improve microvascular function. It also has favorable effects on cholesterol, inflammation, waist circumference, body mass index, and oxidative stress.
The World Health Organization says that increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables up to 600 grams each day could reduce the burden of ischemic stroke by 19 percent globally.
The American Heart Association advises the average adult to eat four to five servings each of fruits and vegetables daily based on a 2,000-calorie diet. A diet rich in a variety of colors and types of vegetables and fruits is naturally low in saturated fat and is a way of getting important nutrients that most people dont get enough of including vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.