Cut Your Risk of a Stroke With Low-Fat Dairy

More

Dairy that's high in fat can lead to clogged arteries, but low-fat products can reduce your stroke risk by up to 12 percent.

The Doctor Will See You Now
Muffet/flickr

Consuming plenty of low-fat dairy foods like milk and yogurt appears to reduce the risk of having a stroke.

Swedish researchers followed nearly 75,000 middle-aged and older men and women over a period of 10 years. The study began in 1997 when participants completed a questionnaire about their lifestyle, diet and exercise habits, body mass index, work, and education. All were free of any history of heart disease, stroke, or cancer at the time.

High-fat dairy foods contain more saturated fat, which can increase LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels and, in turn, lead to clogging of the arteries that supply blood to the heart and brain.

Over the next ten years, researchers followed the incidence of stroke using the Swedish Hospital Discharge Registry. There were 4,089 cases of stroke reported including 3,159 cerebral infarctions, 583 hemorrhagic strokes, and 347 cases of unspecified strokes. A cerebral infarction occurs when there is a blockage in a vessel that supplies blood to the brain, and a hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain.

Among the participants in the study, those who consumed a daily average of four servings of low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese had a 12 percent lower risk of stroke than those whose diet included full-fat versions of these dairy foods. High-fat dairy foods contain more saturated fat, which can increase LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels and, in turn, lead to clogging of the arteries that supply blood to the heart and brain.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke. About one-third of adult Americans have high blood pressure, but only about half have their blood pressure under control. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) emphasizes the consumption of low-fat dairy products and recommends two to three servings a day, depending on calorie intake.

The USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends three servings of dairy foods a day, and advises low-fat products.

According to the study authors, the benefits of low-fat dairy foods on stroke risk are likely due to the presence of vitamin D and the minerals calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

There are other risk factors for stroke besides high blood pressure and diet. Other risk factors include smoking and lack of exercise. A healthy diet combined with smoking cessation, increased exercise, and good blood pressure control can reduce the risk of stroke.

The study was published in the journal, Stroke.


This article originally appeared on TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com, an Atlantic partner site.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Beth Fontenot is a registered dietitian and a licensed dietitian/nutritionist. She serves on the Louisiana Board of Examiners in Dietetics and Nutrition and writes for TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In