While the short-term benefits of healthy eating are felt in our energy level and waistline, the long-term benefits will prevent chronic illness and disease, and even keep us living longer.
The risk of stroke, in particular, could be reduced significantly by eating healthy foods. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 19 deaths in the United States is caused by stroke. That’s someone roughly every four minutes.
There are two types of risk factors of having a stroke — controllable and uncontrollable. Uncontrollable factors include age (those 55 years or older, especially men, are most at risk), ethnicity (African-American, Hispanic, and Asian individuals are more susceptible), and history of stroke (in the individual or in the family). The good news is that many of the controllable factors — such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, tobacco or alcohol use and obesity — have to do with lifestyle choices such as what we eat. It's not a surprise that certain vitamins and nutrients in popular healthy foods prevent the risk of stroke, as they also are ones that lower cholesterol, blood pressure and weight. So let’s look at those healthy foods that could combat the risk of stroke:
Tart citruses such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons and leafy greens such as broccoli, lettuce and spinach contain antioxidants. Those fruits are particularly beneficial in preventing the risk of stroke in women.
Beans are wonderful “brain foods” because they contain high amounts of folic acid. A 20-year study shows that risk of stroke is reduced by 20% by eating foods rich in folic acid.
Foods high in soluble fiber, such as apples, oatmeal and bananas, and high in insoluble fiber, such as broccoli, green beans and whole grains, help to lower cholesterol.
Going low-fat with milk, cheeses and other dairy products will reduce risk of stoke up to 12%, according to a 2012 Swedish study that followed more than 70,000 adults during a 10-year period.
Choosing foods low in sodium also will help reduce risk of stroke. Eating a diet high in sodium will increase your risk of high blood pressure.