Eating More Than Five Portions Of Fruit And Vegetables a Day Can Substantially Reduce The Risk Of Stroke

Encouraging people to consume more than five portions of fruit and vegetables a day should
result in a major reduction in stroke, according to a meta-analysis in this week’s issue of
The Lancet.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the most common cause of disability in most
developed countries. Previous research has shown that increased consumption of fruit and
vegetables is related to a reduced risk of stroke, but the extent of the association has been
uncertain until now.

Feng He (St. George's, University of London, UK) and colleagues pooled data from eight
studies on fruit and vegetable consumption and stroke risk, involving over 257 500 people
from Europe, Japan, and the USA. The analysis revealed that compared with individuals who
have less than three fruit and vegetable servings a day, those with three to five servings per
day had an 11% reduction in the incidence of stroke, while those with more than five servings
per day had a relative reduction of 26%.

Dr He concludes: “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 and mortality would be greatly reduced. Such diet modifications
would also reduce other cardiovascular disease and some cancers.”

In an accompanying Comment Lynn Steffen (University of Minnesota School of Public
Health, USA) states: “Low intake of fruit and vegetables is a major modifiable risk factor
contributing to the burden of ill health . . . Because food habits develop in childhood, we must
protect young people from developing chronic disease early in life. Therefore, partnerships
must be formed between public-health agencies, state and local industry, and the media to
promote healthy food choices.”

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