Yet more reasons to up your fruit and vegetable intake - an 11-year Swedish study has found a diet rich in antioxidants lowers the risk of stroke, even in those with a history of heart disease, by reducing inflammation and blood vessel damage.
A team from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found women on a diet high in total antioxidant capacity (TAC) led to less heart health incidence over 11 years.
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 on the heart by tackling the free radicals. Antioxidants, especially flavonoids, may also help risk the risk of reduce blood clotting, blood pressure and inflammation, all risk factors for a heart attack.
The results are reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
"To the best of our knowledge, no study has assessed the relation between dietary TAC and stroke risk in participants with a previous history of cardiovascular disease," said said Susanne Rautiainen, M.Sc.
"Further studies are needed to assess the link between dietary TAC and stroke risk in men and in people in other countries, but we think our results are applicable."