Piling up your plate with vegetables and fruits may have benefits beyond cancer prevention and maintaining healthy weight. Scientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet now say that it plays a significant role in reducing women’s chances of coming down with a stroke irrespective of their medical history of cardiovascular diseases.
The study and its finding were published in the American Heart Association’s journal called Stroke.
As per the PhD student and first author of the study, Susanne Rautiainen, “Eating antioxidant-rich foods may reduce your risk of stroke by inhibiting oxidative stress and inflammation. This means people should eat more foods such as fruits and vegetables that contribute to total antioxidant capacity.” (1)
Usually the body is able to neutralize the effect of free radicals that cause damage to cells but when there is an excessive amount of free radicals, there occurs an oxidative stress imbalance. It is in such a scenario that antioxidants present in vegetables and fruits in the form of carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamins C and E etc help by scavenging the free radicals.
In addition it has been observed that the antioxidants also help reduce blood clotting, blood pressure and inflammation.
The researchers used a food frequency questionnaire to gather the data on foods they ate. The total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of the participants was determined.
This reflected the capacity of all antioxidants in the diet of a person to reduce the ill effect of free radicals. Based on the TACs obtained of reach woman, they were divided into nine groups -- five groups with a history of cardiovascular diseases and four without.
It was seen that in the groups where women were without a history of cardiovascular disease, the highest scorers of TAC got their antioxidants from fruits and vegetables. These high TAC-scoring women also had significant 17 percent lower risk of total stroke compared to the low scorers of this group. (2)
In the groups where women had a previous history of cardiovascular disease a similar result was repeated.