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Fruits and Vegetables Linked to Decreased Risk of Stroke

May 09, 2014 02:56 PM EDT

A new study claims that regularly eating fruits and vegetables may reduce your stroke risk, and gives truth to the old saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Eating 200 grams of fruit every day - the equivalent of two apples - can decrease the risk of stroke by 32 percent, ABC News reported. The same amount of daily vegetables also reduces stroke risk by 11 percent.

"Improving diet and lifestyle is critical for heart and stroke risk reduction in the general population," senior study author Dr. Yan Qu said in a news release provided by the American Heart Association.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and a major cause of disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It occurs when the blood supply to the brain is blocked or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. If it goes untreated, it could be fatal.

Researchers analyzed 20 studies over the last 19 years that included more than 760,00 people and were conducted in the United States, Asia and Europe.

The lower risk was seen in strokes caused by a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding (hemorrhagic) and was consistent among men and women and people of different ages.

Though the study doesn't prove that fruit and vegetable consumption are the cause of the decline in strokes, there is a clear association between the two.

"The findings are consistent with the current knowledge that increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables should be encouraged to prevent stroke," Qu told Reuters.

Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables up to 600 grams each day could reduce the risk of ischemic stroke by 19 percent worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

The American Heart Association advises the average adult to eat four to five servings each of fruits and vegetables daily, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

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