Mediterranean Diet Reduces Stroke Risk

A Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke. A Mediterranean diet is easy to follow because it is not a complicated 'plan', it is inexpensive and it includes a wide enough variety of choices that you can find plenty of dishes and snacks that you like among the options that are considered to be a part of a Mediterranean diet.

What is a Mediterranean diet?

A Mediterranean diet describes a general way of eating, not a restricted dietary program or a prescribed plan.

Adopting the Mediterranean diet means getting plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as nuts and dried fruit. Seafood and legumes are the primary cornerstones when it comes to meal preparation. Cooking oils include olive oil and monounsaturated oils. Oils are used in moderation and often as a topping or an addition near the end of the cooking process to avoid cooking the oil at very high heat, which changes the chemical structure of the oil, making it harmful for your health. One of the hallmarks of a Mediterranean diet is a moderate amount of red meat and wine. Chicken is a standard source of protein as well. Bread, rice and pasta, especially whole grain varieties, are a staple of a Mediterranean diet.

There is wide variety of food choices when it comes to adopting a Mediterranean diet, and the heavy inclusion of vegetables can be used to create rich salads with many ingredients, as well as main courses that incorporate grains and vegetables cooked with fish, chicken or beef.

Some of the items that are noticeably absent from a Mediterranean diet include processed chips, processed baked goods and other items that are prepared with trans fats.

An important thing to keep in mind if you are going to start eating a Mediterranean diet is that a Mediterranean diet is a description of a way of eating, and thus it does not include a caloric formula.

Therefore, even if you are adopting a healthy Mediterranean diet, it is important to maintain moderation when it comes to quantity of food and calories in your food, because being overweight increases the risk of stroke. And, most people do not know that one of the effects of excessive dieting, becoming underweight, can increase the risk of stroke death. Get a general idea of the calories you need every day with a calorie calculator.

Why does a Mediterranean diet help reduce stroke risk?

A Mediterranean diet has been scientifically shown to be associated with a lower stroke risk. In a study from Sweden, a total of 32, 921 women were followed for 10 years. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower rate of stroke, heart failure, and heart attack. Recently, studies such as the study from Sweden have made the Mediterranean diet popular and ‘trendy.’ This is one trend that is indeed healthy and based on sound scientific data. Another research article, from New York University, explained that stroke reduction and reduction of atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that causes stroke, accounts for the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

And the chemistry behind a Mediterranean diet explains why this happens. The benefits of a Mediterranean diet are based on the types of food that it includes and the types of foods that it does NOT include.

What a Mediterranean diet has:

  • Antioxidants are natural components of fresh fruit and vegetables that chemically ‘cancel’ harmful effects of toxins on the body.
  • The right fats in your diet help reduce fat and cholesterol in the blood, reducing the risk of stroke-causing blood clots.
  • Fish is rich in healthy fats and low in calories.
  • Nuts contain antioxidants and healthy fats.
  • Wine, in moderation, can help reduce the risk of stroke due to its antioxidant components.
  • Potassium, which is found in nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, has been shown to reduce stroke risk.

What a Mediterranean diet does not have:

  • Trans fats damage the body by causing oxidative damage and leading to the build up of unhealthy fat and cholesterol levels.
  • Deep-frying causes oxidative damage, which is a risk factor for stroke.
  • Sugar additives lead to obesity, which is a risk factor for stroke.


Cardiovascular Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet Are Driven by Stroke Reduction and Possibly by Decreased Atrial Fibrillation Incidence, Geisler BP, The American Journal of Medicine, January 2016

A Mediterranean diet and risk of myocardial infarction, heart failure and stroke: A population-based cohort study, Tektonidis TG, Åkesson A, Gigante B, Wolk A, Larsson SC, Atherosclerosis, November 2015

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