Eating three bananas cuts your risk of a stroke,scientists say.A banana for breakfast,one for lunch and one in the evening would provide enough potassium to reduce the chances of suffering a blood clot on the brain by around 21 per cent.
The findings,by British and Italian researchers,suggest thousands of strokes could be prevented by the consumption of other potassium-rich foods such as spinachnuts,milk,fish and lentils.
Although some previous studies have suggested bananas could be important for controlling blood pressure and preventing strokes,results have not always been consistent.In the latest research,published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology,scientists analysed data from eleven different studies dating back to the mid-Sixties and pooled the results to get an overall outcome.
The average banana contains around 500 milligrammes of potassium,which helps to lower blood pressure and controls the balance of fluids in the body.Too little potassium can lead to an irregular heartbeat,irritability,nausea and diarrhoea.
They found a daily potassium intake of around 1,600 milligrammes,less than half the UK recommended daily amount for an adult of 3,500mg,was enough to lower stroke risk by more than a fifth.
Researchers from the University of Warwick and the University of Naples said potassium intake in most countries is well below the recommended daily amount.But if consumers ate more potassium-rich foods and also reduced their salt intake,the annual global death toll from strokes could be cut by more than a million a year.
Researchers said in their report: 'It would translate into a reduction of as many as 1,155,000 stroke deaths a year on a worldwide scale.'Strokes, which are usually caused when a clot forms and blocks the blood supply to the brain,kill around 200 people every day in the UK.
Many more are left disabled and in danger of a second or even third attack which could kill them.Treating and looking after the 100,000 people affected by strokes each year in the UK costs the NHS an estimated £2.3 billion.Only cancer and heart disease kill more people.
A spokesman for the Stroke Association said: 'This research suggests eating lots of potassium-rich foods,such as bananas,dates and spinach,could reduce your risk of having a stroke.
'High blood pressure is the single biggest risk factor for stroke and past research has indicated that potassium could help to lower blood pressure.'This could go some way to explain the positive effects of potassium demonstrated in this study.'
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