Friday, March 14, 2008

Magnesium Rich Foods Cuts Risk of Stroke in Male Smokers by 15%

According to a new study, male smokers can reduce their risk of cerebral infarction, or stroke, by 15% by increasing dietary intake of magnesium rich foods. The most significant effect was found in men younger than age 60. Magnesium intake has also been found to reduce blood pressure, leading researchers to speculate that dietary intake of foods rich in minerals such as magnesium may be associated with good blood pressure control, though the exact mechanism for stroke risk reduction is not entirely clear.

Finnish men who smoked more than five cigarettes a day were enrolled in the study after providing complete dietary information, and included 26,566 participants, aged 50 to 69 years The average follow up time was 13.6 years. The men who consumed at least 589 mg/day of dietary magnesium daily were found to have a significantly lower risk of ischemic stroke than those who consumed the average amount of 373 mg/day.

To clarify further, strokes are caused either by ischemia (lack of blood flow), or hemorrhage. This study, led by Susanna C. Larsson, PhD, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, found that magnesium intake did not influence the incidence of strokes cause by hemorrhage. Dr. Larsson writes: "An inverse association between magnesium intake and cerebral infarction is biologically plausible. In addition to lowering blood pressure, magnesium may influence cholesterol concentration or the body's use of insulin to turn glucose into energy. Either of these mechanisms would affect the risk for cerebral infarction but not hemorrhage.”

It’s important to recognize the role that nutrient rich foods have on our overall health. Foods that are rich in magnesium include black beans, whole grain cereals, spinach and whole wheat bread.

Food sources of magnesium
• Cashews, dry roasted, 1 oz: 73 mg.
• 1 Cup cooked spinach: 157 mg
• Baked potato with skin, medium sized: 55mg.
• Medium sized banana: 34 mg.
• 100 percent Bran, 1 oz: 134 mg.
• Roasted almonds, 1 oz: 86 mg.
• 1 Cup black beans: 120 mg.
• 1 Cup raw broccoli: 22 mg.

Make an effort to stop smoking, of course, but if you’ve tried and are still struggling, consider the results of this study and increase your dietary intake of magnesium. Better health is a fine goal for today. We’ll deal with tomorrow in about 24 hours, okay?

Ref: Arch Intern Med. 2008;168:459-465. ◦