Health Advice



Nutrition News: Reducing Stroke Risk

Charlyn Fargo on

Reducing Stroke Risk

Did you know women are more likely to have a stroke than men? And women are also more likely to suffer from a permanent disability or die from a stroke?

The good news is we can do something to lower our risk.

Data analyzed and published in the journal Stroke found that lifestyle changes -- even later in life -- can lower women's risk for stroke.

The study looked at nearly 60,000 women, who were an average of 52 years old at the start of the study. They were followed for 26 years. Researchers found quitting smoking, being physically active for 30 minutes (or more) a day and losing weight were associated with a 25% lower overall stroke risk. In addition, doing those three things was associated with a 36% lower risk of ischemic stroke. Ischemic is the most common type, in which blood flow to the brain is blocked.

If you add eating a healthy diet, the participants lowered their risk from stroke by 23%. That healthy diet included eating more fish (think salmon and tuna), more whole grains (brown rice instead of white; whole-wheat bread instead of white), and more fruits and vegetables. Participants ate less processed meats (bacon, sausage, deli meat) and had fewer alcoholic drinks.


You don't have to wait until next February to "Go Red for Women" and think about heart healthy habits. Make some simple switches to boost the fiber in your diet. We need 25 to 35 grams a day. A cup of raspberries can provide 8 grams. Switch from a lower-fiber cereal to oatmeal. Choose a snack of grapes or sliced melon cubes instead of a cookie. All these little decisions add up to healthy lifestyle changes.

Take a 30-minute walk, and add some strength training to your routine. My friend does a 20-second plank, 12 pushups and 35 squats throughout her day. She does those on her break while working from home. Run up your stairs, if you have them at home. Exercise doesn't have to be at a gym or continuous. It's more about including it in your daily consciousness.

It's never too late to get started.

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