In a new study, researchers find that eating a Mediterranean-style diet may reduce stroke risk in women over 40.
The research is led by the University of East Anglia.
It is one of the largest and longest-running efforts to evaluate the benefits of the Mediterranean-style diet in lowering the risk of stroke.
Such a diet is high in fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans, and lower in meat and dairy, reduces stroke risk among white adults who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease.
In the current study, the researchers examined the intake of key components of a traditional Mediterranean-style diet.
Over a 17-year period, the team examined the diets of more than 23,000 people and compared stroke risk among 4 groups ranked highest to lowest by how closely they adhered to a Mediterranean style diet.
The data were from the EPIC-Norfolk study, the UK Norfolk arm of the multi-center European Prospective Investigation into Cancer study.
The researchers found that in people who most closely followed a Mediterranean-style diet, the reduced onset of stroke was 17% in all adults, 22% in women, and 6% in men.
There was also a 13% overall reduced risk of stroke in participants already at high risk of cardiovascular disease across all four groups of the Mediterranean-diet scores.
However, this was driven mainly by the associations in women who showed a 20%reduced stroke risk.
This benefit appeared to be extended to people in low-risk group although the possibility of chance finding cannot be ruled out completely.
It is unclear why there were differences between women and men, but it could be that components of the diet may influence men differently than women.
But researchers suggest a healthy, balanced diet is important for everyone both young and old.
The American Heart Association recommends a heart-healthy and brain-healthy dietary pattern that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, non-tropical vegetable oils, and nuts and limits saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages.
This dietary pattern reduces risk factors and risk for heart disease and stroke.
The lead researcher is Prof Ailsa Welch from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.
The study is published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.
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