A study reported online on June 15, 2011 in the journal Neurology® reveals an association between olive oil consumption and a lower risk of stroke. Olive oil is a common feature of diets consumed in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean, and has been suggested as an important factor in the diet's disease-protective benefit.
Cécilia Samieri, PhD, of the University of Bordeaux and her associates analyzed data from 7,625 participants aged 65 and older in the Three-City Study, an ongoing prospective cohort study of vascular risk factors for dementia that includes men and women residing in Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier, France. Olive oil consumption frequency was ascertained from dietary intake documented upon enrollment between 1999 and 2000, and was categorized as no use, moderate use or intensive use (characterized by the use of olive oil in dressings and in cooking).
During a median follow-up period of 5.25 years, 148 strokes occurred in the study population. Adjusted analysis of the data unveiled a 41 percent lower risk of stroke among intensive olive oil users compared to those who reported no use. The protective association was significant for ischemic stroke, but not hemorrhagic stroke.
In a secondary study of 1,245 subjects for whom plasma fatty acid measurements were available, those with the highest levels of plasma oleic acid (a biological marker of oleic acid intake provided by olive oil consumption) had a 73 percent reduction in stroke risk compared to those whose levels were lowest.
American Academy of Neurology member Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD of Columbia University remarked in an accompanying editorial that "Although the Mediterranean-type diet shares many features with many other healthy dietary patterns, it is distinct in its high fat content, mainly from olive oil." However, he added that "Whether the putative health benefits of a Mediterranean-type diet are due to olive oil itself remains a matter of debate."
"Our research suggests that a new set of dietary recommendations should be issued to prevent stroke in people 65 and older," commented Dr Samieri, who is affiliated with the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Bordeaux. "Stroke is so common in older people and olive oil would be an inexpensive and easy way to help prevent it."
Ischemic stroke is responsible for 80 percent of all strokes (NINDS 2005). There are two kinds of ischemic stroke. The first, a thrombotic stroke, results from a blood clot (thrombus) forming in a vessel inside the brain and cutting off the blood supply to the tissues served by that vessel. The second, an embolic stroke, occurs when a clot forms somewhere else in the body, breaks off, and travels to the brain.
The following dietary supplements may help improve endothelial function and cerebral blood flow and reduce the risk of stroke:
L-arginine—1800 to 9000 milligrams (mg) daily
Acetyl-L-carnitine—1000 mg daily
Propionyl-L-carnitine—1000 mg daily
Vinpocetine—15 to 25 mg daily
CDP-choline—250 mg daily
Potassium—99 mg daily or more, based on blood test results
Calcium—1200 to 1500 mg daily, with 800 international units (IU) vitamin D3
Magnesium—500 mg daily
Omega 3 (from fish oil)—1400 mg daily EPA and 1000 mg daily DHA
CoQ10—100 to 200 mg daily
Green tea—725 mg daily. A decaffeinated form is available for people sensitive to caffeine.
Beta-carotene—10,000 to 25,000 IU daily
Vitamin C—2000 mg daily
Vitamin E—400 IU daily (alpha tocopherol) and 200 mg daily gamma tocopherol)
NAC—600 mg daily
Garlic—600 to 1200 mg daily
Selenium—200 micrograms (mcg) daily
Vitamin B6—250 mg daily
Vitamin B12—300 to 500 mcg daily
Folate (folic acid)—800 mcg daily
DHEA—15 to 75 mg daily, followed by blood testing at 3 to 6 weeks to make sure optimal blood levels are maintained
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