If you’re a fan of Mediterranean food, a recent study led by Ayesha Sherzai, MD, a stroke neurologist from New York City, found out that you’re in luck. The results show that a diet made up from vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and dairy products is the cause of lowering the risk of having ischemic stroke with up to 18 percent.
Physical activity, cardiovascular risk factors and smoking habits were all taken into consideration when calculating the percentage; the stricter they followed the diet, the lower the risks. This study was conducted on a female demographic.
Sherzai explained that stroke has become one of the greatest diseases in the United States, and, frankly, all around the world, and there are not enough efficient treatments to fight them successfully. Consequently, there is one risk people can control in order to avoid having a stroke, and that is their diet.
The original research, The California Teachers Study, aimed at examining dietary patterns in relation to cancer risk. Up to 134,000 mostly white female teachers, aged around 52, from across the state were part of the study, which started its research in 1994. Upon enlisting, the women were asked a few baseline lifestyle questions, which also included detailed knowledge about their eating habits. Based on their answers, the whole body of participants was divided into five separate groups.
However, in the new analysis, Sherzai and her team focused on cross-referencing these eating patterns with an established 9-point system from the Mediterranean diet. The initial question of the study followed the connection between conforming to a Mediterranean diet and stroke risk in the female population, a hypothesis which hasn’t really been explored before.
Last fall, the American Heart Association (AHA) has published an updated version of the stroke prevention guideline. In this revised edition, Mediterranean-style diet was suggested for the first time as a method of lowering stroke risk in the general population. This guideline followed the appearance of other studies which pointed to the same connection between your diet and the chances of lowering your cardiovascular and stroke risk. Among those we count a randomized trial from 2013, made public in the New England Journal of Medicine. This trial did not focus solely on women, and discovered that a Mediterranean diet lowered the risk of heart attack in people who are usually at high risk.
AHA concurred with the conclusion, and recommended it as a part of its initiative to decrease the number people developing cardiovascular diseases with 20 percent by 2020.
The new study achieved its results based on system which made women score high if they ate fruits, vegetables, and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), but also lost points when they followed diets high in sugar, meats, and dairy. If you’re looking for proper sources of MUFA, you should try avocados, nuts and seeds, olives, whole or squeezed in oil.
Consequently, when calculating their points, the researchers discovered that the higher they scored on the scale, the lower the heart disease risk. Other studies confirmed this hypothesis so far, but Sherzai’s team managed to take it a step further: drawing the line between hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke. It was no surprise to the scientists that the risks which cause hemorrhagic stroke were not influenced by a Mediterranean diet, since those are induced by weakened vessels that eventually rupture and bleed into the brain.
Sherzai explains that the results of the study do not mean that all of us should start a Mediterranean diet. Instead, we should include more of the diet components which proved to lower the risks, such as eating more plant-based products, less meat and less saturated fats. This could make a significant difference. At the same time, most people could switch from butter to olive oil, or eat less sugar-based meals.
The researchers also advocate a significant reduction in consuming red meats. Instead, adding more fish to the diet could balance the body’s need for proteins. Even though the study could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between lower stroke risk and following a Mediterranean diet, the scientists’ discoveries are worth considering, and integrating their suggestions into our lifestyle might be effective for people who are at a higher risk of stroke.
In the past few years, Mediterranean diet has been discussed in many contexts among dietary experts and researchers around the world. Beyond the studies which concluded that it lowers stroke risk, the healthy eating style is also known for protecting against other lethal illnesses, such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, blood pressure, obesity, peripheral artery disease, and heart attacks. Other experts believe it can also help in the battle against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and also, in some cases, cancer.
Image Source: Huffington Post