Higher intake of fruit and vegetables has been linked with a lower risk of ischaemic stroke, according to the largest study to investigate this.
The study, published in European Heart Journal, looked at the association between food and stroke in more than 418,000 people in nine European countries.
The participants completed questionnaires asking about diet, lifestyle, medical history and socio-demographic factors, and were followed up for an average of 12.7 years. During this time, there were 4281 cases of ischaemic stroke and 1430 cases of haemorrhagic stroke.
Ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke
Until now, most studies have looked at the association between food and all types of stroke combined or focused on ischaemic stroke, but this new one investigated ischaemic stroke and haemorrhagic stroke separately.
According to a press release about the study: "Ischaemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery supplying blood to the brain or forms somewhere else in the body and travels to the brain where it blocks blood flow.
"Haemorrhagic stroke occurs when there is bleeding in the brain that damages nearby cells. About 85 percent of strokes are ischaemic and 15 percent are haemorrhagic. Stroke is the second leading cause of deaths worldwide."
Foods and stroke risk
Researchers found that higher intake of a number of foods was linked to a lower risk of ischaemic stroke, including fruit, vegetables, fiber, milk, cheese, and yogurt. These foods had no significant association with a lower risk of haemorrhagic stroke.
Eating more eggs was associated with a higher risk of haemorrhagic stroke, but not with ischaemic stroke.
Increase fiber, fruit, and veg consumption
Dr. Tammy Tong, the first author of the paper and a nutritional epidemiologist at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford (UK), said: "The most important finding is that higher consumption of both dietary fiber and fruit and vegetables was strongly associated with lower risks of ischaemic stroke, which supports current European guidelines.
"The general public should be recommended to increase their fiber and fruit and vegetable consumption, if they are not already meeting these guidelines.
"Our study also highlights the importance of examining stroke subtypes separately, as the dietary associations differ for ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke, and is consistent with other evidence, which shows that other risk factors, such as cholesterol levels or obesity, also influence the two stroke subtypes differently."