Scientists from the University of East Anglia found that eating a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of stroke by more than 20% in women aged 40 or older, but it appears to have no strong impact on men’s risk of stroke.
A stroke, also known as a transient ischemic attack or cerebrovascular accident, happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked.
This prevents the brain from getting oxygen and nutrients from the blood.
Without oxygen and nutrients, brain cells begin to die within minutes. Sudden bleeding in the brain can also cause a stroke if it damages brain cells.
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that’s based on the traditional cuisines of Greece, Italy, and other countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.
The diet is rich in plant-based foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices, which are the foundation of the diet. Olive oil is the main source of added fat.
In addition, fish, seafood, dairy, and poultry are included in moderation. Red meat and sweets are eaten only occasionally.
Although some research has found that the Mediterranean diet is protective against stroke risk, few studies have examined whether this link differs in men and women and in people with different heart disease risks.
In the current study, researchers examined the link between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and the risk of stroke.
They used data from more than 20,000 men and women aged 40 to 77 years. These people wrote 7-day dietary diaries to show their adherence to the Mediterranean diet.
During 17 years of follow-up, the team found 2009 stroke cases. The risk of stroke was strongly reduced with greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet in women but not in men.
The team also found there was a lower risk of stroke in people at high risk of heart disease. However, this was driven by the associations with women.
Based on these findings, the researchers suggest that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was linked to a lower risk of stroke in the UK population.
The results also showed the associations between the Mediterranean diet score in people at both low and high risk of heart disease.
Although the findings were driven by the benefits for women, they have implications for the general public and clinicians regarding the prevention of stroke.
The study was published in Stroke and conducted by Ailsa Welch et al.
If you care about stroke, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and MIND diet could slow down cognitive decline after stroke.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce the risk of dementia, and cutting 1 gram of salt from daily meals could prevent 9 million heart attacks, and stroke cases.
Copyright © 2022 Scientific Diet. All rights reserved.