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January 25, 2017

By A. Weinberg, Contributing Columnist

We’re not talking about the kind of nice stroke you might
give a cat, then she purrs. We’re talking about the brain-
cells-screaming-for-oxygen kind of stroke. Not nice at all.
We’re talking about the fifth leading cause of death in the
United States, according to the American Stroke
Association and American Heart Association.  

A stroke occurs when blood vessels porting oxygen to the
brain are either blocked or ruptured. A part of the brain,
therefore, can’t get the necessary blood and oxygen, so
the brain cells die.  

There are three types of stroke: ischemic, hemorrhagic,
and transient-ischemic. An ischemic stroke happens by
clot, a hemorrhagic one by the blood vessel rupturing and
preventing blood flow to the brain, and a transient
ischemic attack is caused by a temporary clot.  

None of the above, of course, are positive to experience.
Some side effects, if the incidence occur on the right side
of the brain could be: paralysis on the left side of the
body, trouble seeing, and memory loss. If on the left, you
might have paralysis on the right side of the body,
speech/language problems, and trouble remembering.  

The good news is to prevent a stroke, or to recover better
after one, you can look to your diet. There are certain
foods you should steer clear of. Read up on which ones  
they are, based on medical studies.  

Diet Soda Increases Your Stroke Risk by 50%

Contrary to popular belief, sodas marketed as "diet" and
"light" aren't always better for your health.

These products often have chemicals in them that are
worse than the sugar or fat you may be trying to avoid.

Drinking these sodas might also be deadly, if the results of
a 2012 Northern Manhattan Study containing 2,564 people
are any indication.

Dr. Hannah Gardener from the Evelyn K. Brain Institute in
Miami, Florida and her colleagues wanted to know what
effect diet soda had on vascular events, including stroke.
They assessed diet and regular soft drink consumption of
their test subjects, using the food frequency questionnaire
as a baseline. Soda consumption was categorized into
none, light, and daily.

After following up 10 years later and analyzing 591
vascular events (255 of them strokes), they discovered
some surprising results: Diet soda was associated with a
50% increase in stroke risk.

Oddly, there was no increased risk of vascular events
associated with regular or light soft drinks. So, it’s best to
stick with just water or at least something without
processed sugar.  

Egg Yolks --Only in Moderation  

Cholesterol can contribute to a stroke or be detrimental
after experiencing one. Binging on eggs, therefore, isn’t a
great idea. Sharon Maguire, nurse and writer at, affirms that while eggs can be
healthy, it’s best to just use the egg whites. Instead of
making the traditional scrambled or fried eggs using the
yolk, she recommends making an egg white omelette with

Fried Fish Increases Stroke Risk by 20%

Fish is supposed to be good for you, right? With all the
veggies, grains, fruit, Mediterranean diet, blablabla. Well,
yes. But fry it, eat it in high quantities, and you can get a
pretty bad result.

Frying fish negates the potential positive benefits it might
have. The process can cause fatty fish like salmon to lose
its good omega-3 oils and simply be replaced by the ones
in the oil it’s fried in.

The other factor is that a significant percentage of fish that
is fried, including cod and other white fish, is less high in
omega-3 fatty acids to begin with.

In 2010, Dr. Fadi Nahab, director of the stroke program at
Emory University Hospital, and colleagues studied the
connection between stroke and fried fish consumption in
people in the “stroke belt” (a region in the U.S. between
the Carolinas and Arkansas that has a higher incidence of

They found that people in the Stroke Belt were 32% more
likely to consume two or more servings of fried fish than in
other parts of the U.S.

The study results revealed that this led to a 20% more
likelihood of stroke.

As the scientists clarifies, “What we hope to highlight with
our study is that it’s not just about having fish, but about
how you prepare that fish. And it’s not about any kind of
fish whatsoever, but having certain fish species that have
more omega-3 fats, so if you’re going to have fish, it’s
better to have fish like salmon, herring and mackerel that
are much higher in omega-3 fats.”

Skip Salty Snack Foods and Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin D
to Lower Your Stroke Risk

It’s not that you can "never" have anything salty again. In
fact, unprocessed salt is pretty good for you in moderate
quantities, as it gives you necessary iodine.

However, if you’re loading up on Cheetos and potato
chips, you're raising your risk of stroke.

In 2013, L.C. Larsson from the Karolinska Institute in
Stockholm, Sweden, wanted to discover which dietary
nutrients were correlated to a stroke risk.

From epidemiologic evidence, they discovered inconclusive
results about fats, but that a high sodium intake and low
dietary consumption of Vitamin D intake are likely to
increase stroke risk.  

Margarine and Other Foods with Trans-fats  Raise Your
Stroke Risk by 40%

Trans fats are either made naturally in the guts of certain
animals such as  cows are they are made artificially by
creating partially hydrogenated oils in processed foods.

These second type of trans fats are the dangerous ones, in
terms of your risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke,
according to the American Heart Association.

Margarine contains loads of trans fats.

Other possible foods containing trans-fat are definitely not
low-fat, such as crackers, cookies, and store-bought baked

Although you can easily find studies in which trans-fat is
bad for everyone, in the case of stroke, it is especially
prevalent among post-menopausal women.

In a 2010 study by the Gillings School of Global Public
Health at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill,
scientists examined the relationship between trans-fat and

"We found positive associations between total fat intake
and ischemic stroke incidence and between trans fat intake
and ischemic stroke incidence," said Sirin Yaemsiri, M.S.P.
H., a doctoral student in the department of epidemiology.

Postmenopausal women who reported consuming the
most dietary fat had a 40% higher incidence of clot-caused
strokes compared to women who ate the least amount.
The incidence of ischemic stroke increased by 30 percent
in the quartile of women consuming the highest amount of
trans fat (average intake 7 grams/day) compared to those
who consumed the least (average 1 gram per day).  

Two Drinks of Alcohol Per Day Is Too Much

Emphasis on “too much.” If you sip down more than two
drinks per day, that’s a red line for stroke risk.

According to Dr. Natalia Rost, associate professor of
neurology at Harvard Medical School and associate director
of the Acute Stroke Service at Massachusetts General
Hospital, "Studies show that if you have about one drink
per day, your risk may be lower. Once you start drinking
more than two drinks per day, your risk goes up very

To clarify, in this case, one drink is defined as a 5-ounce
glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer, and a 1.5 ounce of glass of
hard liquor. Rost recommends that if you do have a drink
or less per day, let it be wine, which protects your heart
and brain.  

Sugar! No, please.  

Consuming added sugar (which includes white sugar,
brown sugar, honey, molasses, jelly, jam, etc.) has been
associated with hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and
dyslipidemia, which often lead to stroke.

In 2016,  Dr. D. Yu and other scientists at the University
Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee examined link
between sugar levels and stroke.

They looked at the dietary glycemic index, glycemic load,
and intake of refined and total carbohydrates in relation to
the risk of total, ischemic, and hemorrhage incidents, as
well as overall stroke mortality.

What they found is that the higher your blood sugar levels,
the higher your risk of stroke.

Put differently, dietary glycemic index and glycemic levels
increased due to consumption of refined grains, and is
associated with the increased risk of total, ischemic, and
hemorrhagic stroke in middle aged and older urban
Chinese women.

The takeaway --- stay away from sugar and excess
carbohydrates, which convert to glucose pretty quickly.


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