Senior Scene for September 4, 2017

This has to be one of my favourite times of the year – sunshine during the day, cool evenings for sleeping and lots of fruits and veggies at the local farmer’s stands.  With this in mind, I am going to share some information about “Stroke Prevention with Fruits and Vegetables”.

Over two decades ago, researchers discovered that eating fruits and vegetables prevented strokes and diminished the damage if they occurred.  British researchers discovered that older people who ate the most fresh green vegetables and fresh fruits were less likely to die of strokes.  A Norwegian study found that men who ate the most vegetables had a 45 percent lower risk of stroke. It also found that women who ate lots of fruit were 1/3 less likely to have a stroke.

The dramatic finding of a recent large-scale Harvard study that tracked nearly 90,000 female nurses for eight years confirmed those earlier findings. They found that eating carrots five times a week or more could reduce your risk of stroke by an astounding 68 percent compared with eating carrots only once a month or less.  Spinach was also a particularly potent stroke deterrent.

More remarkable is new research showing how important it is to have lots of beta carotene and other vitamin A in your bloodstream should you suffer a stroke.  The vitamin may prevent your death or disability from the stroke, according to Belgian researchers who analyzed the blood of 80 patients within 24 hours after they had suffered strokes.

They discovered that stroke patients with above-average amounts of vitamin A, including beta carotene, had more chances to survive, were more likely to have less neurological damage and recover completely.  When your brain is deprived of oxygen, as in a stroke, cells begin to malfunction, leading to a series of events culminating in oxidative damage to nerve cells leading to their death.

Foods rich in beta carotene – which converts in the body into vitamin A – in addition to carrots are dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, collards and kale, as well as dark orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes and pumpkin.  Such foods are also high in potassium; another potent antidote against strokes.

Eating just one extra serving of potassium-rich foods every day may reduce your risk of stroke by 40 percent.  That’s what researchers discovered by analyzing the diets of a group of 859 men and women over age 50, living in southern California.  Among those who skimped the most on potassium, the odds of stroke deaths shot up 2.6 times in men and 4.8 times in women making it a very good reason to pursue stroke prevention with fruits and vegetables.

Unfortunately for all of us, strokes still occur, so with this in mind CCSH will be offering a Heart and Stroke “Living with Stroke” education series commencing on Wed Sept 13th at 1:00 pm.  There will be six 2 hour sessions facilitated by our Stroke Support Coordinator and augmented by community professionals as guest speakers.  The topics include:  Understanding Stroke, Physical Changes and Challenges, Swallowing and Nutrition, Cognition, Perception and Communication, Emotions, Activities and Relationships, Reducing the Risk of Stroke, and Moving Forward.  Call Lorraine at 613-969-0130 ext 5207 for more information.

Information in this column is compiled by Shell-Lee Wert- Executive Director of Community Care for South Hastings Inc., 470 Dundas Street East, Unit 63, Belleville, K8N 1G1.  Please visit our website at check us out on Facebook, or email me at, or call 613-969-0130 or 613-396-6591 for information on our programs and services.  Community Care is a proud United Way member agency.  Funding in part from the South East Local Health Integration Network.