Stroke Protection

Antioxidant rich food—such as blueberries, spinach and spirulina—reduce brain damage from strokes.

By Sarah Todd Davidson, published on September 1, 2005 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

A diet that includes blueberries, spinach or spirulina, a type of green algae, reduces the brain damage caused by stroke.

The high levels of antioxidants in these three colorful foods are protective, say researchers. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, molecules in the body that are implicated in degenerative diseases, including heart disease.

After only a month of dried-blueberry- or spinach-spiked diets, lab rats that had suffered strokes had only half the brain damage found in those on regular diets, according to a study published in Experimental Neurology. A diet that included spirulina resulted in a whopping 70 percent improvement.

Paula Bickford, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of South Florida, says humans can reap approximately the same benefits by eating a cup of blueberries, a big spinach salad or a few teaspoons of spirulina powder every day.