What are Antioxidants and how can they help Prevent a Stroke

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Everyone knows that antioxidants come with many perks. Antioxidants are the proverbial bottom feeders of human bodies; they ‘eat’ all the free radicals that collect within the body. Free radicals can create a destructive process in human cells, causing the molecules within the cells to become unstable. While scientists have known about this benefit of antioxidants, now there’s research that shows increased antioxidant intake can reduce the risk of a stroke.

The results of this long term study in Sweden showed that the more antioxidants in a woman’s diet, the less likely she was to suffer a stroke. The follow up after eleven years had passed showed women who had a diet rich in antioxidants were 17% less likely to have a stroke when compared with the women of the lowest antioxidant intake.

The study included 36,715 women (31,035 with no history of cardiovascular disease) from the Swedish Mammography Cohort who were followed from September 1997 to December of 2009. The multivariable adjustment included factors like age, education, smoking, body mass index, physical activity, stroke, myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, atrial fibrillation, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, family history of myocardial infarction, aspirin use, dietary supplement use, and intakes of total energy, alcohol, and coffee.

The results of a previous study contradicted those from this one. In the earlier randomized, controlled studies, people who used antioxidant supplements like vitamin E didn’t seem to have any reduced risk of stroke. Possible sources of error include the fact that only food frequency surveys were given, it failed to take into account amount of differing portion sizes.

In conclusion, while it’s not a proven fact antioxidants reduce stroke risk and there is room for an argument against it, the study showed a significant reduction in the likelihood of a stroke when more antioxidants are consumed.

The possible reason provided for this reduction in risk that was provided is reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in the women. Antioxidants literally make it more difficult for molecules to oxidize. It can slow down or even prevent this from happening. When molecules oxidize they create cellular bi-products called free-radicals. These are to be expected in a normal body but like many other things, in excess they can result in problems, sometimes causing damage to cellular structures.

So even though it’s not entirely sure that antioxidants can reduce the risk of stroke, they have so many other benefits that it’s good to have them in your diet to begin with. Some foods that contain this helpful scavenger are red beans, wild blueberries, pinto beans and cranberries. Many other foods contain antioxidants too. They’re vital for the human body to thrive and remain healthy.

More about this author: Kaitlyn Shepanski

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