Stroke: The 25p snack that could reduce the risk of stroke – studies

Dr Xand: Research suggests Aspirin could help with stroke

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The most common type of stroke is an ischaemic stroke, which happens when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. The blood clot usually forms in areas where the arteries have been narrowed or blocked over time by fatty deposits. Although arteries can narrow with age, there are a number of factors that can speed this up.

These include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive alcohol intake.

But a number of studies, compiled by the California Walnut Commission, have shown that eating walnuts can actually reduce the risk of stroke, as well as some of the conditions that cause strokes such as diabetes and having high blood pressure and cholesterol.

The commission explains that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, has “been found to have a beneficial role in the prevention of heart disease and stroke”.

“Walnuts are the only tree nut to contain a significant amount of omega-3 ALA – 2.7 grams out of 30g.

“Each handful (approximately 30 grams) of walnuts also contains 1.4g of fibre and 4.4g of protein.”

A 150g bag of walnuts can be bought from Asda for £1.25 – meaning a 30g serving costs just 25p.

One study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2018, found that a Mediterranean diet including tree nuts, primarily walnuts, was associated with a 46 percent lower risk of stroke, when compared to a low-fat diet.

For the trial, 7,447 participants who were at high cardiovascular risk, but with no cardiovascular disease at enrolment, were assigned to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts, or a control diet (advised to reduce dietary fat).

Participants received quarterly educational sessions and, depending on group assignment, free provision of extra virgin olive oil, mixed nuts, or small non-food gifts.

While a 2020 report, published by the Journal of the American Heart Association, linked eating just half a serving a day of nuts, such as walnuts, with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Compared to those who consumed no nuts, the study participants who ate just half a serving a day of nuts had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and stroke.

And a study published in the journal Circulation, last year, found an association between regular daily walnut consumption and sustained lower levels of cholesterol among 708 healthy older adults who included walnuts as part of their diet for four years.

The NHS recommends a low-fat, high-fibre diet, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and wholegrains, to reduce your risk of stroke.

The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST:

Face – The face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.

Arms – The person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.

Speech – Their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.

Time – It’s time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.

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