The research participants consisted of 31,696 Swedish women with an average age of about 60 who completed a 350-item questionnaire about their diet and lifestyle. They were followed for an average of 10 years.
Healthy lifestyle was defined through factors such as healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, never smoking, physically active and healthy body mass index (BMI). A healthy diet was defined as within the top 50 percent of a recommended food score measuring how often the participants ate healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Moderate alcohol consumption was defined as three to nine drinks per week. Physically active was defined as walking or biking at least 40 minutes a day along with more vigorous exercise at least one hour per week. Healthy BMI was considered below 25.
Women with all five factors had a 54 % lower risk of stroke. “Because the consequences of stroke are usually devastating and irreversible, prevention is of great importance,” said study author Susanna C. Larsson, PhD, of the Karolinska Instituet in Stockholm, Sweden. “These results are exciting because they indicate that a healthy diet and lifestyle can substantially reduce the risk of stroke, and these are lifestyle choices that people can make or improve.”
S. C. Larsson, A. Akesson, A. Wolk. Healthy diet and lifestyle and risk of stroke in a prospective cohort of women. Neurology, 2014; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000954