Fiber intake reduces stroke risk.
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Fiber intake reduces stroke risk.

To slash your stroke risk, eat more fiber. New research from the University of Leeds found that upping your intake by just 7 grams a day can make you 7 percent less likely to suffer a stroke.

"Fiber directly impacts key risk factors for stroke, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and being overweight," says study author Diane Threapleton. "Soluble fibers are broken down in the large bowel, which helps reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. Insoluble fibers slow the rate that the stomach is emptied, which keeps you feeling fuller longer and prevents weight gain."

But don't get too hung up on soluble versus insoluble, Threapleton says. Rather, focus on boosting your overall fiber intake to the recommended 35 grams per day. "Switch from refined white breads, cereals, and pastas to whole-grain varieties," she says. "Have fruit and nuts handy to snack on instead of chocolate or chips, avoid highly processed foods, and incorporate more vegetables, beans, and lentils into dishes you cook at home. These simple, small-scale dietary changes can be very beneficial over the long term."