Studies are inconsistent when it comes to how potassium might affect the risk of stroke. A meta-analysis of previous prospective studies suggests that eating high amounts of potassium may lower the risk of stroke.
Susanna C. Larsson, PhD, who many readers have already known is a veteran researcher of Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and colleagues conducted the review study and found that higher intake of potassium compared to a lower intake was associated with as much as 11 percent reduction in the stroke risk.
Fruit and vegetables are full of nutrients such as vitamin C, beta carotene and potassium as well as plant proteins and dietary fiber.
The researchers suspect that potassium is an important factor in preventing stroke.
"We've know that if you give people addition potassium it lowers blood pressure," said MacGregor, who reported the research in The Lancet medical journal.
"By increasing to five servings a day from three you would increase your potassium intake by about 50 percent," he added.
MacGregor said fruit and vegetables also are less calorie-dense, have very little fat and contain antioxidants which may also be beneficial.
The meta-analysis was based on data from prospective studies of 268,276 participants with 8695 cases of stroke reported in Pubmed database from Jan 1966 through March 2011.
The study was released in the July 28, 2011 issue of the Journal Stroke.
To be exact, the study found every 1000-mg per day increase in potassium intake was associated with 11 percent reduced risk of stroke. Such an intake was associated with 11 percent in ischemic stroke risk, 5 percent reduction in intracerebral hemorrhage, but 8 percent increase in the risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage.
The researchers concluded "Dietary potassium intake is inversely associated with risk of stroke, in particular ischemic stroke."
Listed below are some statistics about stroke in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
1, Stroke killed about 137,000 people in the country in 2006; It is responsible for 1 out of 17 deaths.
2, Stroke strikes someone in the U.S. in every 40 seconds and kills one in three to four minutes;
3, Stroke occurs in about 795,000 people in the U.S. each year. More than half the strokes are first or new strokes. About 185,000 people who survive a stroke are expected to have another.
4, Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke, which accounts for 85 percent of all strokes.
5, In 2009, strokes sent 68.9 billion dollars to the medical industry.