Mom Was Right – Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

This is my BFF’s Aunt Jo Ann! She recently had a stroke (end of March 2014), and was featured in this local newscast about eating fruits and veggies to cut your risk of stroke. She is 83 years old, but if still very spunky, even after having a stroke.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As we approach Mother’s Day, some of her advice is ringing true again. New research finds eating more fruits and vegetables cuts the risk of a stroke.

Jo Ann Gillette had a stroke in late March. She didn’t seek treatment until it was too late to prevent disability.

“Mainly it’s taken away my freedom because I can’t do hardly anything without having some of these gals help me,” she said while in physical therapy at Saint Luke’s Hospital.

The new analysis in the journal Stroke looked at studies of hundreds of thousands of people who did and didn’t have strokes. For every seven ounces of fruit consumed a day, the stroke risk dropped by a third. It dropped 11 percent with every seven ounces of vegetables.

Dr. Karin Olds of Saint Luke’s Neuroscience Institute suspects it has to do with what you’re not eating when you are downing fruits and veggies.

“A diet higher in fruits and vegetables tends to be lower in fats and carbohydrates so the body mass index and the weight and the waist circumference and those types of things are generally lower,” said the neurologist.

That lowers the risk of stroke. Also, those colorful foods have antioxidants which reduce inflammation that can lead to strokes.

“Eat ‘em, eat ‘em, eat ‘em, eat ‘em,” said Gillette, a great-grandmother.

Dr. Olds agrees.

“I think sometimes we depend too much on treating entities with medications and so forth,” she said.

This week, the FDA advised against taking aspirin for prevention of strokes and heart attacks in people without known cardiovascular disease. The FDA said the risk of internal bleeding outweighed benefits. Eating fruits and veggies doesn’t have that risk.


There are two things to take away from her story – eat your fruits and veggies, and get help immediately if a stroke is suspected. Look for these symptoms:

Use the word FAST to remember the first 3 signs (+ 1 action).

  • Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
  • Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

Other signs to watch for:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg, arm or face
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Of course, stroke is not the only thing that eating your fruits and veggies can help to prevent. Fruits and veggies contain an amazing assortment of phytonutrients that can help prevent everything from colds to cancer. So eat up!

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