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Eating More Fruits and Vegetables May Reduce Risk of Stroke and These 4 Diseases

More fruits and veggies help lower risk of stroke

Researchers at the Medical College of Qingdao University in Qingdao, China, found that consuming at least 200 grams of fruit a day reduced the risk of stroke by 32 percent. For every 200 grams of vegetables consumed daily, the risk of stroke was reduced by 11 percent. The findings were published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke.

“Improving diet and lifestyle is critical for heart and stroke risk reduction in the general population,” senior study author Dr. Yan Qu, director of the intensive care unit at Qingdao Municipal Hospital said.

“In particular, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is highly recommended because it meets micronutrient and macronutrient and fiber requirements without adding substantially to overall energy requirements.”

In 2012, the American Academy of Neurology found that eating tomatoes and tomato-based products lowered the chances of having a stroke, due to their lycopene content. Men who had higher levels of lycopene in their bloodstream were 65 percent less likely to have a stroke.

The American Heart Association recommends that the average adult eat 4 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, choosing a variety of colors and types to get important vitamins and minerals.

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If you’re unsure about serving sizes, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) introduced MyPlate in 2011,which recommends filling half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables for every meal.

A previous study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that those whose diets were rich in produce – at least six to seven servings a day – reduced their risk of mortality by 10 percent, and delayed mortality be a little over a year.

Eating more fruits and vegetables may also reduce your risk of several diseases.

Kidney disease – Research published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that adding fruits and vegetables to the diet of patients who had chronic kidney disease for one year was as effective as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) for treating metabolic acidosis, which occurs when the body produces too much acid or the when the kidneys are not removing enough acid from the body.

Heart disease - A 2011 European study reported that people who ate at least eight portions of fruits and vegetables daily had a lower risk of dying from ischemic heart disease than those who ate fewer portions. Ischemic heart disease is characterized by reduced blood supply to the heart, and is the most common cause of death in most Western countries.

Prostate and breast cancer - Previous studies have found that tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower lower the chances of prostate cancer. Broccoli and cauliflower have also been studied for their role in lowering the chances of breast cancer. Pomegranates may also help fight both prostate and breast cancer, and pomegranate juice has been shown to lower the chances of complications from kidney dialysis.

Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet

If you struggle with eating fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, here are a few tips for sneaking them into your diet.

  • Add berries or banana slices to your oatmeal, cereal, or yogurt. Add spinach, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes to omelets or scrambled eggs.
  • Drink 100% fruit or vegetable juices. Avoid anything that says "fruit drink," "punch," or "cocktail" as these contains excess sugars and sodium.
  • Replace pasta with zucchini or spaghetti squash.
  • Blend spinach, kale, or other vegetables into fruit smoothies.
  • Add vegetables to your sandwiches.
  • Replace snack foods with dried or whole fruits.