Fruit, Vegetables, Grains and Nuts Help Lower Stroke Risk

Author: American Heart Association
Published: 2014/10/31 - Updated: 2020/12/03
Contents: Summary - Introduction - Main - Related

Synopsis: Eating Mediterranean or DASH-style diets, regularly engaging in physical activity and keeping blood pressure under control can lower risk of first-time stroke. Mediterranean-style or DASH-style diets are similar in their emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, poultry and fish. The DASH dietary pattern is adjusted based on daily caloric intake ranging from 1600 to 3100 dietary calories.

Introduction

Eating Mediterranean or DASH-style diets, regularly engaging in physical activity and keeping your blood pressure under control can lower your risk of a first-time stroke, according to updated AHA/ASA guideline published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke.

Main Digest

"We have a huge opportunity to improve how we prevent new strokes, because risk factors that can be changed or controlled - especially high blood pressure - account for 90 percent of strokes," said James Meschia, M.D., lead author of the study and professor and chairman of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is a dietary pattern promoted by the U.S.-based National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services) to prevent and control hypertension.

The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods; includes meat, fish, poultry, nuts, and beans; and is limited in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, red meat, and added fats.

In addition to its effect on blood pressure, it is designed to be a well-balanced approach to eating for the general public. It is now recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as an ideal eating plan.

DASH Diet

The DASH diet is based on NIH studies that examined three dietary plans and their results. None of the plans were vegetarian, but the DASH plan incorporated more fruits and vegetables, low fat or nonfat dairy, beans, and nuts than the others studied.

The diet reduced systolic blood pressure by 6 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 3 mm Hg in patients with high normal blood pressure, now called "pre-hypertension." Those with hypertension dropped by 11 and 6, respectively. These changes in blood pressure occurred with no changes in body weight. The DASH dietary pattern is adjusted based on daily caloric intake ranging from 1600 to 3100 dietary calories.

The updated guidelines recommend these tips to lower risk:

Mediterranean-style or DASH-style diets are similar in their emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, poultry and fish. Both are limited in red meat and foods containing saturated fats, which are mostly found in animal-based products such as meat, butter, cheese and full-fat dairy. Mediterranean-style diets are generally low in dairy products and DASH-style diets emphasize low-fat dairy products.

Avoiding secondhand smoke also lowers stroke and heart attack risks, according to the guidelines.

The writing committee reviewed existing guidelines, randomized clinical trials and some observational studies.

"Talking about stroke prevention is worthwhile," Meschia said. "In many instances, stroke isn't fatal, but it leads to years of physical, emotional and mental impairment that could be avoided."

Co-authors

Cheryl Bushnell, M.D., M.H.S.; Bernadette Boden-Albala, M.P.H., Dr.P.H.; Lynne Braun, Ph.D., C.N.P.; Dawn Bravata, M.D.; Seemant Chaturvedi, M.D.; Mark Creager, M.D.; Robert Eckel, M.D.; Mitchell Elkind, M.D., M.S.; Myriam Fornage, Ph.D.; Larry Goldstein, M.D.; Steven Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D.; Susanna Horvath, M.D.; Costantino Iadecola, M.D.; Edward Jauch, M.D., M.S.; Wesley Moore, M.D.; and John Wilson, M.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

Attribution/Source(s):

This quality-reviewed publication titled Fruit, Vegetables, Grains and Nuts Help Lower Stroke Risk was selected for publishing by Disabled World's editors due to its relevance to the disability community. While the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or brevity, it was originally authored by American Heart Association and published 2014/10/31 (Edit Update: 2020/12/03). For further details or clarifications, you can contact American Heart Association directly at heart.org Disabled World does not provide any warranties or endorsements related to this article.

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