For older women, a healthy diet can reduce risk of stroke

For older women, a healthy diet can reduce risk of stroke

As the healthy living community Care2 notes, there's nothing especially newsworthy about the importance of a balanced diet, regular exercise and abstention from smoking and similarly unhealthy practices. After all, your parents and teachers likely spent years drilling these ideas into your head. But a new study out of Sweden points to a significant new health benefit of these habits, one that could help potentially save millions of lives.

A research team at Stockholm's Karolinaska Institutet studied 32,000 Swedish women — averaging 60-years-old — and asked them to adhere to this routine of healthy habits:

  • Exercise: At least 40 minutes of daily moderate exercise and at least one hour of more strenuous activity per week.
  • Healthy weight: Ideally a body mass index (BMI) score of no more than 25.
  • No smoking, little drinking: For the purposes of this study, moderate alcohol consumption was defined as three to nine drinks per week.
  • Nutritious diet: Emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and low-fat dairy and cutting out red and processed meats, sugar, baked goods, full-fat dairy products, fried starches and foods based in white flour.

While only 589 of the original group of 32,000 were actually able to stick to this schedule, those who maintained these healthy habits exhibited a 54 percent decline in risk of stroke and a 64 percent drop in their likelihood of suffering a cerebral infarction. 

"Because the consequences of stroke are usually devastating and irreversible, primary prevention is of great importance," the study's lead author, Susanna Larsson, said in the journal Neurology.

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