Diet high in fat, sodium boosts risk of stroke

February 9, 2005 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Diet high in fat, sodium boosts risk of stroke

The results of a recent study show that high fat and high sodium diets are both risk factors for stroke, investigators with the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS) report. NOMAS is an ongoing epidemiological study being conducted at Columbia University Medical School in New York. Investigators administered dietary questionnaires to 3,183 area residents.

The participants were divided into four subgroups according to the level of fat in their diet. These amounts were compared dietary fat levels recommended by the American Heart Association, which are 65 grams of fat per day -- based on a 2,000 calorie diet with 30 percent of calories derived from fat.

The subjects who ate the most fat each day had a 64 percent greater chance of having a stroke compared with those who ate the lowest levels. This figure was obtained after other risk factors for stroke were considered including age, gender, education level, race, ethnicity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, moderate alcohol consumption, smoking, body mass index and physical activity. Subjects in the lowest dietary fat group consumed about 24 grams per day, while those in the highest group consumed more than 115 grams per day.

Researchers report that fat, particularly saturated fat has an almost hormonal effect on the blood, causing the release of cholesterol, while polyunsaturated fats have the opposite effect. Research also showed that a high sodium intake increases stroke risk. The same group of subjects was divided into four subgroups according to daily sodium consumption -- more than 4 grams, 3 to 4 grams, 2.4 to 3 grams, and less than 2.4 grams.

Research showed consumption of more than 4 grams (4000 milligrams) sodium a day increased stroke risk by 90 percent compared with the reference group. These findings were consistent regardless of whether or not the subject had high blood pressure. Adults are advised to consume no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day.

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