Eating A Plant Based Whole Food Diet
Fascinating findings. A woman who enjoys a plant based whole food diet, has a lower stroke risk according to a new study. Even if she has a history of heart disease or stroke, this way of eating… lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains… can reduce her chances of suffering with a stroke.
Strokes happen when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted, or reduced, depriving this vital organ of both oxygen and blood… within minutes the brain cells start to die. Considered a medical emergency, doctors will tell you that prompt treatment is vital; acting at once can minimize the damage to your brain and any complications you might deal with later on.
The good news is that strokes can be prevented, and many fewer people die of them today than was the case even 15 years ago. Better control of the risk factors (high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol) is one reason for the decline.
For the current work on stroke, the team examined a group of just over 31,000 women who were heart disease free and 5,680 who had previous heart problems, both groups ranging in age from 49 to 83 years old.
Researchers measured the amounts of foods rich in antioxidants that the subjects’ ate and drank using a food frequency questionnaire. Over 11 years later, there had been over 1,300 strokes among the women who didn’t have heart disease; 1,007 strokes among those who did have earlier histories of heart disease and stroke.
The level of antioxidants consumed in the diet appears to impact stroke risk. Subjects who didn’t have a heart disease history who ate lots of antioxidants had a 17% less chance of suffering any sort of stroke in comparison to those who consumed the least amount of these beneficial nutrients. These results remained the same even after the team accounted for things that could impact stroke risk – like a lack of exercise, being a smoker and other lifestyle choices.
For those who had a history of either heart disease or stroke, the numbers were even more startling – those who consumed the highest amounts of foods rich in antioxidants had a 45% drop in risk of a hemorrhagic stroke (where bleeding occurs in the brain] than those who ate a diet with the least levels of antioxidants.
We know that antioxidants are thought to sop up free radicals in our bodies that can cause heart disease, stroke as well as other serious diseases. Other sources besides fruits, veggies and whole grains include tea and chocolate. Making sure you get these beneficial antioxidants from the foods you eat is an important take-away message from the research.
Most specialists will tell patients to eat more fruits, veggies, omega-3 fatty acids, nuts – and fewer saturated fats.
While the study shows promising benefits to a plant based whole food diet, the work does need to be repeated in men and other female populations. In the meantime, there are other things you can do to lower your risk of dangerous, life altering stroke. Stopping smoking is the most important – the one change that makes the most difference.