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High-protein diet may mean low stroke risk

June 13, 2014

The American Stroke Association reported that stokes occur roughly every 40 seconds in America. However, a new study published in Neurology showed that including more protein in your diet can reduce your risk of stroke. A nutritious diet plan and low cholesterol may be the secret to healthy aging, stroke-free.

A group of researchers in China analyzed seven studies with more than 250,000 total subjects whose health information was tracked for an average of 14 years. Data showed that the participants who ate the highest amount of protein were 20 percent less likely to suffer from a stroke than the people who consumed the lowest amounts. For every 20 extra grams of protein, the risk of stroke decreased by 26 percent. The results accounted for smoking and high cholesterol, two factors that drive risk up.

People who ate a lot of fish proved to be healthier than those who ate red meat for protein. Researchers also determined that animal protein is more beneficial than vegetable protein.

"If everyone's protein intake were at this level, that would translate to more than 1.4 million fewer deaths from stroke each year worldwide, plus a decreased level of disability from stroke," said lead author Xinfeng Liu, M.D., Ph.D., of Nanjing University School of Medicine in Nanjing, China.

High protein food options
To incorporate high-protein meat into your diet, look for skinless chicken breast, venison and skinless turkey breast. Though red meat also has a significant level of protein, it has been associated with increased stroke risk in previous studies, according to the author.

The results of this study showed that fish is a beneficial source of protein to reduce risk of stroke. Some of the fish with the highest amounts of protein are tuna, monkfish and tilapia.

Other foods  with a high protein content are pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and peanut butter. For produce, consider eating soya beans and dried goji berries.

Stoke prevention
Risk factors for stroke that you can't control are age, race, genetics, gender and a prior stroke or heart attack. However, several qualities that contribute to the potential for stroke can be adjusted by lifestyle changes. For example, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, physical inactivity and poor diet. According to the ASA, high blood pressure is the No. 1. cause of stroke. The other four risks can contribute to an increase in blood pressure.