ISC: Mediterranean diet and incidence of stroke in the California Teachers Study
as presented at the International Stroke Conference
Several large studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, cognitive decline, and overall mortality, but there are limited data on the diet’s impact on stroke risk.
In a late-breaking study presented at ISC, held in February in Nashville, researchers at Columbia University and colleagues accessed data from the California Teachers Study, which enrolled female educators in 1995 and continues to track their hospitalizations and deaths.
At the beginning of the study their health and lifestyle were assessed, including a food-frequency questionnaire that gauged how closely each woman’s diet corresponds to the Mediterranean diet -- an eating pattern that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, poultry, and olive oil, with limited red meat, sweets, and saturated fats such as those found in meat, butter, and full-fat dairy products.
In the current analysis, 104,268 teachers (average age 52, 87% white) were divided into five groups based on how closely they follow Mediterranean diet, and their risk of stroke was calculated after adjusting for exercise, total caloric intake, body mass index, smoking, menopausal/hormonal status, and other heart disease risk factors.
Compared with those with the lowest adherence to Mediterranean diet, participants in the top two groups adhering to the Mediterranean diet were significantly less likely to have a stroke during the follow-up period. For ischemic strokes, women in the top three groups all had reduced risk of stroke compared to those whose diets were least like the Mediterranean diet. However, the researchers found no association between eating the Mediterranean diet and risk of a hemorrhagic stroke.
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