Vegetable fat may decrease stroke risk, while animal fat increases it

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In a new study from Harvard, researchers found eating higher total amounts of red meat, processed red meat and non-dairy animal fat increased the risk of stroke, while consuming more vegetable fat or polyunsaturated fat lowered it.

This study is the first to comprehensively analyze the impact on stroke risk from fat derived from vegetable, dairy and non-dairy animal sources.

The findings indicate the type of fat and different food sources of fat are more important than the total amount of dietary fat in the prevention of cardiovascular disease including stroke.

In the study, the team analyzed 27 years of follow-up from 117,136 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study (1984-2016) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2016).

Participants were age 50 years on average, 63% were women, and all were free of heart disease and cancer at enrollment.

In the study, total red meat included beef, pork or lamb as a main dish, in sandwiches or mixed dishes, and processed red meats. Processed red meats included bacon, sausage, bologna, hot dogs, salami and other processed meats.

The team found participants in the highest quintile of non-dairy animal fat intake were 16% more likely to experience a stroke than those who ate the least (the lowest quintile).

Dairy fat in products, such as cheese, butter, milk, ice cream and cream was not associated with a higher risk of stroke.

Participants who ate the most vegetable fat and the most polyunsaturated fat were 12% less likely to experience a stroke compared to those who ate the least.

Those consuming one more serving of total red meat every day had an 8% higher risk of stroke, and those consuming one more serving of processed red meat had a 12% higher risk of stroke.

Based on the findings, the team recommends for the general public to reduce consumption of red and processed meat, minimize fatty parts of unprocessed meat if consumed, and replace lard or tallow (beef fat) with non-tropical vegetable oils such as olive oil, corn or soybean oils in cooking in order to lower their stroke risk.

If you care about stroke, please read stories about she had a stroke at 21; so did her co-worker and stores of her heart ‘looked like Swiss cheese’ after stroke at 29.

For more information about stroke, please see recent stories about high school football player tackles stroke, heart condition and results showing that ‘angry and depressed,’ stroke survivor finds solace in helping others.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2021. One author of the study is Fenglei Wang, Ph.D.

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