On Wednesday, I showed you how olive leaf extract can really help you lower your blood pressure. As you may know, high blood pressure increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. Fortunately, there's a lot we can do to avoid both of these problems. And a new study shows that eating the right foods could help you avoid a stroke.
Quite a bit is known about foods that can help reduce hypertension, which is a risk factor for stroke. But few studies have taken that extra step to determine if these foods do in fact lower stroke risk itself. Researchers in Boston decided to take that step and determine the relationship, if any, between a diet rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium and stroke risk.
To investigate, they reviewed data from 42,699 male participants in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. When the study began, back in 1986, the men were between the ages of 40 and 75. And none of them had received a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease or cancer. The men were then followed over the course of 24 years.
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During that time, there were 1,547 strokes recorded. However, those who consumed the most dietary magnesium, potassium, and calcium had much lower risks of stroke compared with those who didn't. Because it's hard to separate the three factors, particularly when the sources were dietary rather than from supplements, it's hard to say if any one factor was more important than the others. And since magnesium, potassium, and calcium all have benefits beyond lowering hypertension and stroke risk, I think it's a good idea to try to get plenty of all three in your diet.
You'll find magnesium in foods, such as dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, avocado, and bananas. You likely know that bananas are also high in potassium, as are beans, lentils, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. You can find calcium in dairy, of course, as well as in greens, broccoli, and oranges. Try to incorporate some of these foods into your diet every day, particularly if you have hypertension or another risk factor for stroke.
I also recommend taking up to 1,000 mg of magnesium, 99 mg of potassium, and no more than 500 mg of calcium in supplement form. You can get most of the calcium you need in a healthful diet. But it's easy to be deficient in magnesium and potassium. So focus on these in supplements.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD