Strokes are common, strokes can kill us, and we can do a lot to prevent them. According to the Centers for Disease Control, this devastating disease, the third leading cause of death for both men and women in the US, actually affects about 55,000 more women than men annually. That’s a lot of women—a lot of us.
Lifestyle plays a large role in stroke prevention. Many of the same behaviors that we know about for heart disease prevention—stress reduction, diet and exercise—apply for stroke prevention, as well. After all, it’s the same blood vessels, just different location! (Heart vs brain.)
We’ve known for a while that eating fish and omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and Oscar Franco and his colleagues at Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard set out to see if the same is applicable for stroke prevention as well. They reviewed a whopping 38 studies involving 794,000 participants to answer a series of important questions: Does eating fish help to prevent strokes? Does taking an omega-3 supplement help? Is one better than another?
I truly believe that food is medicine, and the findings of Franco, et al., published earlier this week in the British Medical Journal, show that cooking a good meal is better than popping a pill.
The researchers found that although both can modestly reduce your risk of stroke, the results were only significant for the fish group, not the supplement group. In fact, the more fish a participant consumed per week, the lower the risk.
Why? One important factor may be that someone who eats fish chooses to eat other healthy foods, and opts for fish over a more unhealthy alternative like a big juicy, atery-clogging steak.
So: Go fish! Try to have fish at least twice a week. It’s such an easy way cut down your risk of a stroke. Try this simple preparation I make for my family at least weekly:
It’s quick, easy, delicious and is not only good for your heart and brain, but also keeps your hair and skin smooth and shiny. Nothing fishy about that!
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