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When it comes to healthy living, we all know that diet can have a part to play.
Research often pinpoints foods that might make a difference when it comes to keeping certain conditions at bay.
It was recently found, for example, that consuming higher levels of fibre might bring down the likelihood of having a stroke for people who hadn't had one previously.
Research discovered that every rise of seven grams in the amount of fibre consumed daily was linked to a fall of seven per cent in the risk of having a stroke for the first time, according to the American Heart Association whose ‘Stroke’ journal published the study.
You could get this amount of fibre from eating two veg or fruit servings and a serving’s worth of whole wheat pasta, according to the researchers.
Our bodies don’t absorb dietary fiber when we eat it. Research in the past had demonstrated this sort of fibre might be able to help in reducing stroke risk factors like having blood pressure which is high.
In the recent study, the researchers looked at several past pieces of research. Of the eight analysed, four were looking at ischemic stroke and three hemorrhagic stroke.
The researcher's results took into account total dietary fibre, with a link between risk of stroke and soluble fibre not found. They had insufficient data to reach conclusions about insoluble fibre.
“Greater intake of fiber-rich foods – such as whole-grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts – are important for everyone, and especially for those with stroke risk factors like being overweight, smoking and having high blood pressure,” commented Diane Threapleton from the School of Food Science & Nutrition at the University of Leeds.
“Most people do not get the recommended level of fiber, and increasing fiber may contribute to lower risk for strokes,” she also commented.
“We must educate consumers on the continued importance of increasing fiber intake and help them learn how to increase fiber in their diet.”
The American Heart Association recommends people eat 25 grams or more of fibre each day. Here in the United Kingdom, people are told to try to eat 18 grams or more daily.
There’s more to healthy living than eating the right things, of course, and besides having a diet which is nutritious, physical activity and not using tobacco are recommended by the American Heart Association as ways of helping to keep yourself from having a stroke as well and preventing other blood vessel and heart diseases.
Other research recently published by an American Heart Association publication called 'Hypertension', suggested that one cup full of beetroot juice each day might be able to play a part in bringing down blood pressure.
In the research, participants whose blood pressure was high consumed an eight ounce portion of beetroot juice and saw a fall in their blood pressure.
Researchers explained these were preliminary discoveries that did not currently suggest that using beetroot juice as a dietary supplement would benefit your health.
When held up against a placebo group, those who were consuming the juice saw diastolic and systolic blood pressure fall, with this effect still seen 24 hours after the juice was drunk.
The juice had some 0.2 grams of dietary nitrate in it. This is converted, once eaten, into nitric oxide, which can help with blood flow and have a widening effect on blood vessels.
“Our hope is that increasing one’s intake of vegetables with a high dietary nitrate content, such as green leafy vegetables or beetroot, might be a lifestyle approach that one could easily employ to improve cardiovascular health,” commented study lead author Amrita Ahluwalia, Ph.D.
Seven men and eight women who had high blood pressure took part in the research.
“This study shows that compared to individuals with healthy blood pressure much less nitrate is needed to produce the kinds of decreases in blood pressure that might provide clinical benefits in people who need to lower their blood pressure," explained Dr Ahluwalia.
But she added that it still wasn't certain that this impact was kept up over "the long term".