27/01/2006

Eating fruit and vegetables could prevent strokes

Eating more fruit and vegetables could help reduce the risk of suffering a stroke, new research has suggested.

In a study published in 'The Lancet', researchers at the University of London analysed results from eight studies from Europe, Japan and the US, involving over 257,000 participants.

Researchers found that the risk of stroke was reduced by 11% if people ate between three and five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

The risk dropped by 26% for people who ate more than five servings, the researchers found.

Examples of one portion of fruit and vegetables are a banana, medium-sized apple, handful of broccoli or three heaped teaspoonfuls of peas or carrots.

Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the UK and the most common cause of severe disability. It is estimated that a Briton suffers a stroke every three minutes.

Feng He, lead researcher from St George's, University of London, said: "The average fruit and vegetable intake in most developed countries is about three servings per day and current recommendations encourage five or more servings per day.

"Our results provide strong support for these recommendations. If these goals were achieved, stroke morbidity (illness) and mortality would be greatly reduced."

Joe Korner, Director of Communications for the Stroke Association, said: "This latest research is very important because it shows just how significant this simple life style change can be in reducing strokes.

"Simply increasing daily intake of fruit and vegetables to five or more a day could reduce the number of strokes by 26%. In the UK that would mean nearly 40,000 strokes a year. At least a further 20,000 (14%) of strokes could be prevented by better control of high blood pressure through reducing salt intake, better exercise and stopping smoking.

"Awareness of strokes and how to prevent them is too low so it is extremely urgent that this vital message gets across to people through concerted health promotion and awareness campaigning."

(KMcA)


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