More Magnesium in Diet May Reduce Risk of Stroke

Magnesium in the diet
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If you want to reduce your risk of stroke, putting more magnesium rich leafy green vegetables on your plate may be a good start. A new meta-analysis found that for every 100 mg per day increase in magnesium intake, the risk of stroke was lowered by about 9 percent.

Diet plays a role in the risk of stroke

Numerous previous studies have shown that diet plays a significant role in prevention of stroke. A large (nearly 270,000 participants) study conducted in Sweden, for example, found that people who included more potassium in their diet could reduce their risk of stroke by 11 percent.

Potassium is not the only nutrient shown to reduce stroke risk; fiber, vitamin C, and magnesium have also been named in various research. It was magnesium that drew the attention of the investigators from Sweden in this latest analysis.

A team of investigators from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden evaluated data from seven studies that included 241,378 participants. Their analysis revealed that for every 100 mg increase per day in magnesium intake, there was an associated 8% and 9% reduced risk of total stroke and ischemic stroke, respectively.

Ischemic stroke, which is the most common type of stroke (makes up about 87% of total strokes) occurs when a clot or clogged arteries block blood flow to the brain.

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Less common is a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, resulting in blood leaking into the brain. In the new study, magnesium was not found to have an effect on the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

The American Heart Association’s 2012 updated statistics on stroke reveal that each year, 795,000 people in the United States experience a new (610,000 people) or recurrent (185,000) stroke, or approximately one every 40 seconds. One of every 18 deaths in the United States was due to stroke in 2008.

To get more magnesium in your diet, you might try adding a cup of cooked spinach or Swiss chard, each of which provide about 150 mg. Other rich sources include pumpkin seeds (nearly 200 mg per ¼ cup), soybeans (about 150 mg per cup), and a variety of other beans (black, pinto, kidney, lima, and navy), which provide about 80 to more than 120 mg per cup.

According to the authors of the new study, “Although it is premature to recommend magnesium supplementation to reduce risk of stroke, increased consumption of magnesium-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grain cereals appears to be prudent.”

SOURCES:
American Heart Association/American Stroke Association
Larsson SC, Orsini N, Wolk A. Dietary magnesium intake and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis or prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2012 Feb. ajcn.022376

Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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