A review of recent research shows that eating more fruits and vegetables may protect people from having a stroke.

Reduce stroke risk through diet

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Do you know what the fourth leading cause of death is in the United States? Stroke. And of course, as you would suspect, it is a leading cause of disability. 

A review of previous research – 20 worldwide studies spanning 19 years of more than 760,000 adults - shows that eating more fruits and vegetables protects people from having a stroke. That is hopeful news for folks, especially if you have high blood pressure which is a significant risk for having a stroke.

How much produce should we be eating? LOTS! Between 3-4 fruits and more than 4 vegetables a day.

Fruits and Vegetables at Breakfast

  • Add fresh diced fruit into hot cereal (apples, pears, etc.)
  • Add berries to cold cereal
  • Sauté vegetables before adding into an egg omelet

Fruits and Vegetables at Lunch

  • Spinach, red onion slices and diced tomatoes into pita pocket
  • Pickled beet salad
  • Hummus with raw veggies dippers
  • Seasonal fruit salad

Now, it seems simple to eat more fruits and vegetables but the truth is that most Americans are not too strong in this department. I think that you will need to make them a priority each and every day.

Get them in before other foods.  Need a snack – think of fruits. Pack them up for your workday so that you are not without.     

Every Monday I bring in a bag of small apples, and then fill in each day with other seasonal fruits. And I think of my dinner menu based on the vegetables that I plan to serve- and I really try for half of my plate filled with non-starchy vegetables.


About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years, and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.