How to Prevent Strokes with Antioxidant Foods
Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the USA, and we spend more to rehabilitate patients from stroke than from any other ailment. Even in Sarasota, Florida, a wealthy community blessed with many physicians, two major hospitals, numerous rehab facilities, and an elderly population that is generally well educated and prosperous, strokes are regrettably a common occurrence.
Thus it isn't a lack of money or good medical care that causes strokes, it's a lack of awareness about how to prevent them. Ironically, with proper nutrition, strokes are one of the easiest diseases to prevent.
How do strokes happen? Their official name is cardio-vascular accidents, and that's a clue. The vascular system, through which blood brings nutrients to the various cells and tissues of the body, gets injured. The walls of a blood vessel are supposed to be smooth. When they get abraded or otherwise damaged, plaque forms on these walls, a goopy, porridge like substance. Plaque can then break off and obstruct the artery causing a heart attack or travel to the brain causing a stroke by obstructing blood flow to vital brain tissues.
Strokes also often happen when clots form in the crease behind the knee and travel thence to the brain.
What causes damage to the walls of the blood vessels?
According to Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D., discoverer of cholesterol and the role low and high density lipids play in heart health, the principle cause is oxidative stress. Dr. Gofman was no lightweight. He received the following awards:
The Lyman Duff Lectureship Award of the American Heart Association in 1965, for research in atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease; lecture published in 1966 as "Ischemic Heart Disease, Atherosclerosis, and Longevity," in Circulation 34: 679-697.
The Stouffer Prize (shared) 1972, for outstanding contributions to research in arterioslerosis.
American College of Cardiology, 1974; selection as one of twenty-five leading researchers in cardiology of the past quarter-century.
Oxidative stress is from oxidants, free oxygen molecule radicals that seek to grab electrons from stable, whole molecules, thereafter leaving them damaged. Think of it like rust on a car. Rust is the oxidation of iron molecules on the body of a car. Similar damage happens to our blood vessels.
Dr. Gofman hypothesized, with ample evidence to back up his theory, that the main cause of oxidative stress to the vascular system is radiation. Two of the main sources of radiation to which we are exposed are
1. cigarette smoke, which is actually quite rich in the radioactive trace minerals Lead-210 and Polonium-210, and
2. medical imaging, especially CT scans, which deliver 60 times more radiation than a typical x-ray.
Other significant sources of oxidative stress are from oxidized or rancid fats or low density lipids.
What's the antidote to oxidative stress? Simply put - antioxidants. The main sources of antioxidants are fruits and vegetables - easily available, inexpensive, and delicious. Tomorrow I'll post a Scandinavian study showing how effective high levels of antioxidants are at preventing strokes. For today, here's a list of those highest in antioxidants
Foods Highest in Antioxidants:
Rank Food Item Serving Size Total antioxidant capacity per serving size
1 Small Red Bean (dried) Half cup 13.727
2 Wild blueberry 1 cup 13,427
3 Red kidney bean (dried) Half cup 13,259
4 Pinto bean Half cup 11,864
5 Blueberry (cultivated) 1 cup 9,019
6 Cranberry 1 cup (whole) 8,983
7 Artichoke (cooked) 1 cup (hearts) 7,904
8 Blackberry 1cup 7,701
9 Prune Half cup 7,291
10 Raspberry 1 cup 6,058
11 Strawberry 1 cup 5,938
12 Red Delicious apple 1 whole 5,900
13 Granny Smith apple 1 whole 5,381
14 Pecan 1 ounce 5,095
15 Sweet cherry 1 cup 4,873
16 Black plum 1 whole 4,844
17 Russet potato (cooked) 1 whole 4,649
18 Black bean (dried) Half cup 4,181
19 Plum 1 whole 4,118
20 Gaia apple 1 whole 3,903