Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Stroke Health Center

Font Size

Diet Loaded With Veggies, Fruits, Whole Grains May Cut Stroke Risk

Study Shows Women Have Lower Risk of Stroke if Their Diet Includes Lots of Antioxidants
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Dec. 1, 2011 -- Eating a diet loaded with antioxidant-rich vegetables, fruits, and whole grains may help women lower their chances of having a stroke -- even if they have a history of heart disease or stroke, a new study shows.

Antioxidants are certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that may lower stroke risk by sopping up damaging molecules in our blood called free radicals, which have been linked to heart disease, stroke, and other diseases.

The study is published in Stroke.

Researchers led by Susanne Rautiainen, a PhD student at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, grouped 31,035 women without heart disease and 5,680 women with a history of heart disease. Then they measured the amount of antioxidant-rich foods and beverages they ate and drank.

About 11.5 years later, there were 1,322 strokes among women without a history of heart disease or stroke. Among women with previous heart disease or stroke, there were 1,007 strokes after about 10 years.

The amount of antioxidants in the diet seemed to make a difference in stroke risk, the study showed.

Women without a history of heart disease or stroke who ate diets loaded with antioxidants were 17% less likely to have any type of stroke, compared to women who ate the least amount of antioxidants. These results held even after researchers took into account exercise, smoking, and other behaviors that could affect stroke risk.

Among women with a history of heart disease or stroke, those who ate and drank the most antioxidant-rich foods and drinks were 45% less likely to have a hemorrhagic stroke than women who ate the least.

Hemorrhagic strokes cause bleeding in the brain due to a ruptured blood vessel.

Protecting Against Heart Disease

Women with no previous heart disease or stroke got about half of their antioxidants from fruits and vegetables. Other antioxidant-rich foods and drinks such as whole grains, tea, and chocolate were also a part of their diet.

"This study is showing that if you get your antioxidants in the form of foods in the diet, it could be protective against heart disease and stroke," says Suzanne Steinbaum, DO. She is the director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Today on WebMD

brain illustration stroke
Know these 5 signs.
brain scans
Test your stroke smarts.
woman with migraine
Is there a link?
brain scan
Get the facts.
brain scans
woman with migraine
brain scan
senior man stretching pre workout
Floor level view of therapist helping stroke patie
concerned woman
Lowering Cholesterol Slideshow