Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Antioxidant-Rich Vegetables, Fruits, and Grains Reduce Stroke Risk in Women

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Antioxidant-Rich Vegetables, Fruits, and Grains Reduce Stroke Risk in Women

Article excerpt

Swedish women who ate an antioxidant-rich diet had fewer strokes whether or not they had a previous history of cardiovascular disease.

"Eating antioxidant-rich foods may reduce your risk of stroke by inhibiting oxidative stress and inflammation," said Susanne Rautiainen, M.S.C., the study's first author and Ph.D. student at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. "This means people should eat more foods such as fruits and vegetables that contribute to total antioxidant capacity."

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body's ability to neutralize them. It leads to inflammation, blood vessel damage, and stiffening. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, carotenoids, and flavonoids can inhibit oxidative stress and inflammation by scavenging the free radicals. Antioxidants, especially flavonoids, may also help improve endothelial function and reduce blood clotting, blood pressure, and inflammation.

"In this study, we took into account all the antioxidants present in the diet, including thousands of compounds, in doses obtained from a usual diet," Ms. Rautiainen said. Researchers collected dietary data through a food-frequency questionnaire. They used a standard database to determine participants' total antioxidant capacity (TAC), which measures the free radical reducing capacity of all antioxidants in the diet and considers synergetic effects between substances.

Researchers categorized the women according to their TAC levels; five groups had no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and four groups had previous CVD. For women with no history of CVD who had the highest TAC, fruits and vegetables contributed about 50 percent of the TAC. Other contributors were whole grains (18 percent), tea (16 percent), and chocolate (5 percent). …

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