A Mediterranean diet can reduce women's risk of stroke, new study reveals

Danielle Fowler
Freelance Writer
A Mediterranean diet could lower the risks of women having a stroke [Photo: Getty]

The Mediterranean diet has long been hailed for its supposed health benefits with multiple studies touting its contribution to great heart and brain function. Now, a major study has investigated the different effects the lifestyle can have on men and women for the first time.

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of East Anglia, women aged 40 and above can reduce their chances of having a stroke by more than a fifth by following the Mediterranean diet.

Interestingly, the findings – which were published in the American Heart Association journal – noted that the diet does not lower a man’s risk of having a stroke.

One of the authors of the study, Ailsa Welch, explained that in order for women to lower their chances of developing the health condition they must strictly follow the diet.

She wrote, “In our analysis, the Mediterranean diet as a whole appears to be more strongly protective against the risk of stroke than the individual foods within it. When we analysed individual foods, there were few significant associations with stroke risk. The benefits appear to come from the additive effects of combining a diet high in fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans, cereals and potatoes.”

A diet high in fish, fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of a stroke in women [Photo: Getty]

Welch added: “A Mediterranean diet also has a lower intake of meat and dairy and a lower ratio of unsaturated to saturated fat.”

The study was conducted by examining the food diaries of 23,232 people aged between 40 to 77 in Norfolk to determine whether eating a Mediterranean diet could prevent a stroke.

Researchers measured their blood cholesterol and blood pressure while also taking into account other stroke risks including having diabetes and smoking. In the 17-year follow-up period, 2,009 people who took part in the study suffered a stroke.

Women benefitted the most from the Mediterranean diet as their risk of stroke was reduced by 22% while no reduction in stroke risk for men was discovered.

So what foods should women be eating in order to lower their chances?

The traditional Mediterranean is inspired by the eating habits of those in Greece, Spain and Italy. Vital components include olive oil, high intakes of fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes. It is also important to lower your meat, dairy and alcohol intake.

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