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Stroke: The ‘preventative’ diet recommended by experts to protect the brain

Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk

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According to Doctor Anita Arsovska, the Mediterranean diet – consisting of olive oil, omega-3 fish oil, balsamic vinegar, vitamins and antioxidants – is recommended to help prevent a stroke. Doctor Arsovska noted that the aim of nutrition therapy is to help regulate blood pressure, blood sugar, and lipids. While embracing a Mediterranean diet, one also needs to reduce the intake of trans fats and unhealthy fats of animal origin.

“This diet is characterised by the substitution of various harmful products with nutritionally healthy alternatives,” said Doctor Arsovska.

One example would be swapping butter for canola margarine, said Doctor Arsovska.

Stroke symptoms:

  • Weakness or paralysis of the arm and leg on one side
  • Paralysis of the face
  • Inability to speak and understand one’s speech
  • Headache, dizziness, blurred vision
  • Unstable or impossible walking
  • Nausea, vomiting (not related to food intake)
  • Consciousness impairment.

Risk factors for a stroke include elevated blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and lipids.

By lowering high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and lipids, the risk of a stroke is minimised.

The Mediterranean diet

Experts at the American Heart Association (AHA) also agree that adherence to the Mediterranean diet helps to prevent a stroke.

Research published in the AHA journal detailed stroke incidences and food diary entries of 23,232 people for one whole week.

All participants were aged between 40 to 77 years old at the beginning of the study, who were then followed up for an average of 17 years.

According to the findings, the more closely a woman followed a Mediterranean diet, the lower the risk of her having a stroke.

In fact, the analysis concluded that women who followed a Mediterranean diet were 22 percent at lower risk of a stroke compared to those who did not follow the Mediterranean diet at all.

While stroke incidences also fell for men who followed the Mediterranean diet, the risk was only lowered by six percent.

One limitation to the study was that most of the participants were white and from England, so more research needs to be done that includes ethnically diverse participants.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The NHS pointed out the main components of a Mediterranean diet, which are:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Cereals
  • Grains
  • Fish
  • Unsaturated fats.

Experts at Michigan Medicine added that “meat, cheese, and sweets are very limited” in a Mediterranean diet.

In terms of fruits and vegetables, “variety” is key, such as grapes, broccoli, spinach, lentils, and chickpeas.

Healthy unsaturated fats, for example, include olive oil, flaxseed oil, and nuts.

There are numerous health benefits to following a Mediterranean diet, which is touted as helping to prevent stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

Furthermore, the diet has been associated with a decreased risk of dementia, depression, and Parkinson’s disease.

While this sort of diet is helpful in preventing disease, another crucial element of longevity is to exercise regularly.

Moving your body every day, and taking time to increase your heart rate, can work wonders on your health.

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