Every year thousands of Indians die or are crippled by stroke. Here, however, is a simple way of reducing the risk. Eat lots of protein.
It is well known that fat-rich diets promote the build-up of plaques in the arteries, which can lead to atherosclerosis. Similarly, high blood pressure and diabetes are caused by overweight and obesity among other factors. However, the latest study published in the journal Neurology shows that dietary protein may reduce the risk of stroke by lowering blood pressure.
Researchers, who conducted this study, including Dr. Xinfeng Liu of Nanjing University School of Medicine in China, stated that their objective was to evaluate the link between protein intake and stroke risk by analysing all available research in the field.
The results of an analysis that involved 254,489 participants and seven studies showed that the risk of a stroke was 20% less among people with the highest dietary protein levels. All subjects were followed for an average of 14 years.
The study points out that people on a diet full of proteins particularly from fish are 20% less likely to experience a stroke than those with the lowest protein intake. The team also found that stroke risk decreased by 26 per cent for every additional 20 g of protein consumed each day.
These findings remained even after taking other factors into account that may influence the risk of stroke, such as smoking and high cholesterol.
Dietary protein appears to reduce stroke risk partly because proteins have the effect of lowering blood pressure. In one study, the levels of triglyrcerides, total cholesterol and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (bad cholesterol) was far lower among participants on a higher protein diet as compared to those who followed a high-carbohydrate diet. The researchers also noted that taking in lots of proteins reduces the risk of stroke by limiting our desire and capacity to consume other potentially harmful foods.
The benefits were appreciably more among participants who consumed a lot of animal (fish) protein rather than vegetable protein. However, since the number of participants on vegetable protein was small, this may not necessarily be the case.
Understanding which diets are most effective for reducing the risk of stroke “opens new avenues of research in stroke prevention with prospective, well-controlled clinical trials comparing major cardiovascular diets.”