A special fat may lower stroke risk

August 6, 2002 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

A special fat may lower stroke risk

Consuming foods rich in linoleic acid, a fatty acid found in corn, sunflower and safflower oils and soybeans, may reduce your risk of the most common type of stroke.

Ischemic strokes, which occur when a clot or narrowed artery cuts off the blood supply to part of the brain, account for about 80% of all strokes. The other 20% are due to broken blood vessels in the brain and are called hemorrhagic strokes.

Researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan followed 7,450 men and women aged 40 to 85 for up to 14 years. At the start of the study each person answered questions about their daily food intake and gave a blood sample that was later evaluated for levels of linoleic acid. The major finding of the study was that the blood level of linoleic acid was inversely associated with the risk of total stroke, ischemic stroke and more specifically lacunar infarction--a type of stroke that involves small arteries deep in the brain.

A 5% increase in consumption of linoleic acid was associated with a 28% decrease in total stroke risk, a 34% decrease in ischemic stroke, a 37% reduction in lacunar stroke and a 19% reduction in hemorrhagic stroke. The researchers noted that linoleic acid might decrease blood pressure and reduce the blood's ability to "stick" together, or form clots.

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