Strokes may seem like they strike out of nowhere. But the truth is they seldom do. And uncontrolled high blood pressure is often a factor.
High blood pressure can damage and weaken your brain’s blood vessels. This causes them to narrow, leak or rupture leading to a stroke. Uncontrolled hypertension can also cause blood clots to form in the arteries that lead to your brain. And those clots can eventually block blood flow triggering a stroke.
But exciting new research has revealed a way we may be able to slash our stroke risk by nearly 75 percent. And it couldn’t be easier.
It turns out getting more of one common vitamin, found in foods you already love, could send your risk plummeting.
Folate linked to 73% lower risk of stroke
The new study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Researchers found that folks with high blood pressure who took in the most folic acid (a manufactured version of folate) had an incredible 73 percent lower risk of stroke than their peers who got the least of the nutrient.
To understand why experts say we should take a closer look at the amino acid homocysteine.
When your homocysteine level goes up, so does your risk for a stroke. But folate works with your body to process homocysteine, keeping your levels low. And when you reduce your homocysteine levels, you reduce your stroke risk too.
But lowering your stroke risk isn’t the only reason to make sure you’re getting enough folate. This B-vitamin has bunches of other benefits too.
5 MORE folate benefits
Following are five MORE reasons to make sure you’re getting enough folate in your diet.
1. Support heart health:
High homocysteine levels don’t just put you at risk for a stroke. According to a study out of Boston, the amino acid is associated with heart disease, as well.
Getting more folate in your diet could keep your homocysteine levels low, providing extra protection for your heart. And a meta-analysis found that supplementing with folic acid was associated with a four percent lower risk for heart disease.
2. Level out cholesterol:
If your doctor has been on you about your cholesterol levels folate may be able to help get him off your back. A study published in the journal Medical Science Monitor confirmed folate could help lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Plus the vital vitamin is associated with higher levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol.
3. Fight macular degeneration:
Harvard, researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with over 5,000 women with heart disease (or multiple risk factors).They found that the ladies taking folic acid supplements were significantly less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration.
4. Avoid colon cancer:
As you age your risk for colon cancer rises. But experts say you can help take care of your colon health by feeding it plenty of folate. In fact, research shows diets that are rich in folate are associated with a lower risk of colon cancer.
5. Protect your memories:
According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, folks with high homocysteine levels have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. And in another study out of Korea, researchers found volunteers with the highest levels of folate had the lowest rates of dementia.
Finding folate in foods
Folate is a water-soluble vitamin. And since excess amounts of the B vitamin can’t be stored in your body, you need to make sure to top up your levels daily.
Adults need between 400 mcg and 1000 mcg of folate a day. But lucky for you delicious foods you likely already love contain the vitamin.
To raise your folate levels fill your plate with…
- beans and legumes ( pintos, garbanzos, kidneys, green beans, green peas, etc.)
- Brussel’s sprouts
- citrus fruits
- dark leafy greens and
- seeds and nuts
Folate is also available as a supplement. The most common form is folic acid.
But research has found lowering homocysteine levels with folic acid isn’t always effective. Experts believe a genetic mutation in the MTHFR gene, which over half of us may have, can make it difficult for our bodies to absorb and use the folic acid efficiently.
But a biologically active form of the supplement appears to solve that problem. So if you can’t get enough of folate though your diet and you want to try a supplement look for one containing bioactive 5-MTHF. To make sure you’re getting the real deal look for L-Methylfolate, metafolin or quartrefolic on the label.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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