Eating breakfast every day, oatmeal in particular, has long been linked to protection against stroke. But so far research hasn’t offered a clear picture of how substituting oatmeal for other breakfast foods like eggs, toast and yogurt might impact stroke risk.
For the new study, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark examined dietary data on about 55,000 adults in Denmark who were 56 years old, on average, with no history of stroke. At the start, participants consumed an average of 2.1 servings of eggs, 3 servings of white bread, 1 serving of yogurt, and only 0.1 serving of oatmeal each week.
Researchers followed half of the participants for at least 13.4 years.
The researchers calculated that a person who replaced one serving of eggs or white bread with oatmeal would have a 4% lower risk of stroke compared to someone who stayed with eggs or bread for breakfast. Eating oatmeal instead of yogurt didn’t appear to impact stroke risk.
While the study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how oatmeal might lower stroke risk, oats may do this by helping to lower LDL (bad) blood cholesterol.
Elevated LDL cholesterol is a risk factor for ischemic strokes; the results were stronger for ischemic stroke, which could indicate that the cholesterol-lowering effect of eating oats may have a long-term protective effect.
Ischemic strokes occur when a clot blocks an artery carrying blood to the brain.
To minimize the risk if ischemic stroke, adults are advised to not smoke, get regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, keep blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar in check, and eat a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein with limited sweets and fats.
Replacing one weekly serving of eggs or white bread with oatmeal was specifically associated with a 5% lower risk of ischemic stroke from blockages in small arteries.
Overall, study participants who ate more eggs and white bread tended to have less healthy eating habits than people who ate more oatmeal.
It’s possible that people who eat oatmeal take better care of themselves in other ways, and this accounted for the protective effect of oatmeal.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.