Women are more health conscious, more likely to schedule physicals and more careful about following doctors’ advice — yet Harvard researchers say we’re twice as likely to have strokes than men are! Why? Blame hormones, belly fat, and a sensitivity to pollutants. Fortunately, you can work to prevent a stroke with these easy tips.
Pour a Taller Glass
We’re already drinking about 28 oz. of water daily, CDC researchers say, and adding another 12 oz. could cut your stroke risk by as much as 53 percent! The reason: A little extra water helps keep your blood thin around the clock, making it far less likely to ever clot. Tired of plain old tap water? You can get the same great protection by drinking sparkling or flavored waters or any kind of sugar-free tea (black, green, white, oolong or herbal).
You don’t have to change into workout gear to get the stroke-preventing perks of exercise. Yale researchers say just moving around for 30 minutes daily tamps down the production of artery-aging stress hormones, cutting your stroke risk by 40 percent.
Drizzle on Olive Oil
Adding 2–3 Tbs. of extra virgin olive oil to your daily diet can cut your stroke risk by 73 percent, suggests research in the journal Neurology. Explains study co-author Cathy Feart, Ph.D., thanks goes to an olive compound (oleuropein) that keeps the blood vessels in your brain strong, healthy, and plaque-free.
Nibbling on 1 oz. of nuts daily (12 macadamias, 14 pecans or 24 almonds) will cut your risk of having a stroke by 35 percent, suggests research in The New England Journal of Medicine. Says study co-author Al Martinez, M.D., nuts brim with potassium, magnesium and plant fats, which reduce clot-triggering inflammation in your bloodstream.
Crack Yourself Up
Keeping blood pressure below 120/80 prevents wear on brain arteries, cutting your risk of stroke by 62 percent, five studies suggest. British scientists say spending five minutes twice daily watching funny videos helps keep blood pressure eight points lower all day.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.