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Five Daily Servings of Fruits and
Vegetables Reduce Risk of Stroke


Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may significantly reduce the risk of stroke, but a most people aren't eating anywhere near the recommended amount for maximum benefit, according to a British medical journal.

In fact, people who eat three to five servings of fruits and vegetables slashed their risk of getting stokes by 11 percent compared to those folks who eat less than three servings, cardiovascular epidemiologists say in the Jan. 28 issue of The Lancet.

An analysis of eight studies involving more than 250,000 adults found that people who ate more than five servings of fruits and vegetables daily slashed their risk of having a stroke by 26 percent, compared with people who ate only three daily servings. In the period of the study, only 4,917 strokes were reported.

However, Dr. Lyn M. Steffin, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health wrote in a commentary along with the study that the typical American only eats 3.75 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

The new findings match the current dietary guidelines from the American Heart Association and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Lancet study also comes on the heels of recent reports that omega-3 fatty acids failed to affect the levels of bad and good cholesterol, and triglycerides-three main culprits of stroke and heart disease. The heart association also reported that soy protein fails to lower blood pressure, another culprit.

But in The Lancet, researchers at London's St. Georges University bolstered the age-old advice that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables are good. Experts said the study gives clinicians ammunition to talk to patients about eating fruits and vegetables rather than gorging on diets of hamburgers and cheeseburgers.

Further analysis showed that diets rich in fruits and vegetables reduce the risks of hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes in people who consumed more than five servings daily. Eating three to five servings only cut the risk of ischemic strokes.

The most common type of stroke, an ischemic ("is-skeem-ic") stroke occurs when an artery to the brain is blocked. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery within the brain suddenly bursts.

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