According to Food Revolution expert Michael Greger, MD, the best way to avoid suffering from a stroke is to eat a whole food, plant-based diet centered around vegetables, lentils, beans, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and nuts.
But to get the full benefits, plant-strong eaters must have a regular, reliable source of B12 — meaning B12-fortified foods or supplements.
One reason why plant-based diets protect against stroke is due to the fiber found in whole plant foods. Studies find that for every seven grams of fiber you eat per day, you get nearly a 7% drop in the risk of first-time stroke. But less than 3% of Americans meet the minimum daily recommendation for fiber.
Plant foods are also filled with antioxidants. Antioxidant-packed foods help reduce inflammation and prevent plaque buildup in the arteries, and they also improve blood flow.
So what foods should you eat?
In one study, adding an ounce of nuts per day seemed to cut the risk of stroke in half. In the U.S. alone, this could prevent 89,000 strokes per year.
According to studies led by Harvard researchers, greens turned out to be associated with the strongest protection against major chronic diseases, including a 20% reduction for strokes (and heart disease) for every additional serving.
According to population studies that followed people over time, those who ate chocolate appeared to have lower rates of stroke. But the sugar and dairy that come with most types of chocolate aren’t linked to positive health outcomes, so dark chocolate with high cacao content is the best choice.
Citrus intake has been associated with lower stroke risk. According to a study of 70,000 women published in the journal Stroke, women who consumed the most flavonoids from citrus fruits over a 14-year period had a 19% lower risk of stroke than women who consumed the fewest.
Eating whole grains has been found to be associated with a reduced risk of stroke. In his book How Not to Die, Dr. Greger recommends at least 3 servings of whole grains each day for stroke prevention.
Garlic is a great choice for reducing stroke risk. A human study found that regular garlic consumption resulted in a 50% reduction in rates of stroke.
High levels of lycopene, which is found in tomatoes, may be associated with a significantly reduced risk of stroke. According to an analysis published in Neurology, which followed more than 1,000 Finnish men aged 46 to 55, those with the highest lycopene levels were 55% less likely to have a stroke.
According to a meta-analysis of studies, higher magnesium intake is associated with a reduced risk of stroke. Beans, leafy greens, and whole grains are all loaded with magnesium.
Strokes typically occur without any warning at all, so prevention is critical. If you want to avoid suffering from stroke, consuming a variety of whole, plant-based foods and eating fewer animal products and processed foods, along with exercise, getting enough sleep, releasing excess weight, and staying positive can go a long way in helping you achieve this goal.