A diet full of fat has been always associated with the risk of stroke but a study presented on Monday shows that what really matters is the type of fat and not its amount. The research found that consuming fat from sources like vegetables led to lower stroke risk while fat consumed from animal sources led to high risk.
A Study Finds That It Is The Type Of Fat That Matters In A Diet
In the United States, the fifth leading cause of death is stroke. For a long time, medical experts and nutritionists have worked on understanding its role in our diet.
The Chan School of Public Health of Harvard’s postdoctoral research fellow, Fenglei Wang said that if people make small changes in their lifestyle, like reducing the intake of processed and red meat, its benefit on public health will be huge. Wang’s findings were presented at the Scientific Sessions 2021 of the American Heart Association on Monday, although these findings haven’t been peer-reviewed or published in a journal yet.
The findings come from data collected throughout 27 years from over 117,000 health care professionals. The information was derived from two of the longest-running and largest studies in the United States- the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study. In the research that was conducted, subjects regularly participated in questionnaires about their food consumption and diet and gave their medical records.
One major limitation of the study was that most of the subjects were white health professionals.
A stroke happens when the flow of blood is restricted from flowing to a part of the brain. It can be caused because of a blood vessel rupturing, which is called a hemorrhagic stroke or stroke caused by clotting of blood, also known as ischemic stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes make around 10% of the total strokes and ischemic stroke makes for over 90% of strokes every year.
The research found that higher consumption of vegetable fats was associated with low ischemic stroke risk. People who consumed more polyunsaturated and vegetable fats were around 12% less likely to experience ischemic strokes than people who consumed the least. Consuming fewer animal fats also had an advantage over stroke types.
Participants who consumed the most animal fat like processed and red meat but did not consume much dairy fat were 16% more prone to having strokes compared to those who consumed the least. Dairy fat was not linked with stroke risk.
The Minneapolis Heart Institute’s cardiovascular prevention director, Dr. Michael Miedema, who wasn’t involved in the study, said that this research fits with previous studies on nutrition which shows us that we should be consuming more plant-based diets. Miedema added that most of the people in America rely on animal-based products and the more we can shift that to plant-based, the better we can get.
He added that how healthy a person’s diet becomes depends mostly on what they are replacing meat with.
The Oregon Health & Science University’s Knight Cardiovascular Institute’s registered dietitian, Tracy Severson, emphasized the importance of substituting plant-based meats which carry a lot of sugar, salt and saturated fats with whole foods like beans and lentils.
She noted that this research does not mean that every person should give up meat in their diet.
She said that she doesn’t think that everyone should drop meat and become vegan if that’s not what they want. But it would be beneficial to alter one meal of meat every week with an option that is unprocessed and vegetarian because it will prove good for people’s cardiovascular health.
Much research in the past has not been very clear about the impact of vegetable oils like coconut and palm oil on cardiovascular health. The researchers suggest substituting animal fats like tallow or lard with soybean and corn oil.
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