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Healthy eating 'could slash first-time stroke risk'

Healthy eating 'could slash first-time stroke risk'
31st October 2014

A Mediterranean-style diet could be one of the keys to cutting the risk of developing stroke for the first time.

This is according to new guidelines from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) published in the journal Stroke, which also suggest that regular exercise and well-controlled blood pressure are important in reducing the chances of bringing on first-time stroke.

The AHA/ASA advocates following a diet similar to that popular in Mediterranean countries, where the focus is on the intake of fruit, vegetables, white meat, seeds, whole grains, legumes and nuts to lower the consumption of saturated fat.

Other recommendations include reducing salt intake, avoiding smoking and monitoring blood pressure closely, both at home and through visits to a health professional.

"We have a huge opportunity to improve how we prevent new strokes, because risk factors that can be changed or controlled - especially high blood pressure - account for 90 per cent of strokes," explained James Meschia, professor and chairman of neurology at the Mayo Clinic and lead author of the report.

He added: "Talking about stroke prevention is worthwhile. In many instances, stroke isn't fatal, but it leads to years of physical, emotional and mental impairment that could be avoided."

The Stroke Association in the UK recommends that people dedicate one-third of their diet to fruit and vegetables, while starchy foods should make up another third. It also advises cutting down on dairy products and eating protein every day to help reduce stroke risk. 

Earlier this year, a study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, indicated that high-protein diets may lead to a lower stroke risk compared with lower-protein eating regimes.

Conducted by the Nanjing University School of Medicine in China, the research found that subjects eating large amounts of protein were 20 per cent less likely to incur a stroke compared with those consuming minimal amounts.

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