Scientists List Diets to Reduce Stroke Risk in Women with Diabetes

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A new research has recently revealed that eating Mediterranean diet could help older women with high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes reduce the risk of cardiovascular attacks, strokes and related conditions.

According to the recent statistics released from the Federal Ministry of Health, 40 percent of Nigerians suffer from different illnesses like diabetes, stroke, heart attack and mental illnesses. An estimated 30 percent of these patients are likely to die of heart disease, and 16 percent will die of stroke.

The new study, conducted by researchers from the University of California, including a professor of epidemiology, focused on data from the Women’s Health Initiative, a massive long-term project exploring disease prevention in postmenopausal women. It included more than 5,800 women who developed diabetes as adults but reported no cardiovascular disease at the project’s outset. The researchers scored detailed food questionnaires from the women according to how closely their responses fit each of four dietary patterns.

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Three patterns , an “alternate” Mediterranean diet, adapted for Western tastes; the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH); and American Diabetes Association recommendations – all advocate eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains and some dairy, less added sugars and red and processed meat. The fourth pattern, a Paleolithic-style diet, emphasizes meat, fruit, nuts, greens and other vegetables, and discourages consumption of grains, dairy, added sugars and alcohol.

The researchers tracked new cardiovascular disease in the women over an average of 12.4 years. About 11 percent developed heart disease, and more than 6 percent had a stroke.

Women whose scores were among the highest for the DASH diet were 31 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular problems than those with the lowest scores, the study found. Those with the highest scores for the ADA guidance and the Mediterranean-style diet had 29 percent and 23 percent lower risk, respectively.

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The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found no link between a high paleo score and a risk that was either lower or higher.

Research is scarce about diet and heart health in people with Type 2 diabetes, said senior study author Andrew Odegaard, because food recommendations for these patients are based largely on information from populations without diabetes.

“These findings support current dietary-related clinical practice recommendations for populations with Type 2 diabetes as being one approach to improve cardiovascular risk,” said Odegaard, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Irvine.

For people in general, diets should include more vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, lean protein and fish, with less saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, according to guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association. The guidelines also advise people to minimize trans fats, processed meat, refined carbohydrates and sweetened drinks.

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Nurse practitioner Cindy Lamendola, who was not part of the research team, believes the study is a helpful addition to the body of evidence about diet in Type 2 diabetes.

“With all the dietary fads the public is exposed to, findings like those in this study should be reassuring to the public and also an important message to share with postmenopausal women with Type 2 diabetes,” said Lamendola, clinical research nurse coordinator at Stanford University in California.

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