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More Fruits and Veggies Can Cut Risk of Stroke
Results could be attributed to effects of potassium
Jeff Leach (zinjboss)     Print Article 
Published 2006-01-31 05:41 (KST)   
According to a new study published in the British journal The Lancet, eating five or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day can cut the risk of stroke by 26 percent.

The 5-a-day message by the USDA is well known, but applying this does not seem to be filtering down into everyday life. Recent studies have shown that while the average consumption of people in developed countries is three portions a day, many eat less.

"These findings provide strong support for the recommendations encouraging the public to consume more than five servings of fruit and vegetables per day," wrote lead author Feng He from St. George's University of London.

The meta-analysis study of eight prospective cohort studies (five from the U.S., three from Europe, and one from Japan) combined 257,551 individuals with an average follow-up time of 13 years. After adjustment for confounding factors, the researchers quantitatively assessed the risk of stroke as a function of fruit and vegetable intake.

Individuals who ate between three to five portions per day had an 11 percent lower risk of stroke than people who ate less than three portions per day. Eating five or more portions per day lowered the risk of stroke by 26 percent.

The researchers could not determine the exact protective effect of a diet high in fruit and vegetables, but did highlight the presence of potassium, folate, fibre and antioxidants.

"Since raised blood pressure is the major cause of stroke, the blood pressure lowering effect of potassium could be one of the major mechanisms contributing to a reduced risk of stroke with an increased fruit and vegetable intake," said Feng He.

In an accompanying editorial, Lyn Steffen from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, cautioned, "However, disease prevention might not be attributed to single-nutrients, but to the interaction of nutrient and non-nutrient components in whole foods."

One limitation with this new study is the habits of the individuals themselves, since people who eat more than five portions of fruit and vegetables a day are probably less likely to smoke, have lower intakes of salt and fat, and be more physically active.

Another limitation that could have implications for the nutrients industry, and the food industry in general, was that the no distinction could be made as to whether some types of fruit and vegetables were better than others.
Jeff Leach is an anthropologist who specializes in evolutionary trends in human nutrition and its application to modern health and well-being. You can read more at his website.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Jeff Leach

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