Is there a relationship between diet and stroke or other cardiovascular diseases?

Cardiovascular diseases are the second leading cause of mortality in the world , but dietary interventions have long been applied in the treatment of their risk factors (which include increased levels of blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and dyslipidemia ) with satisfactory results, which could help reduce that number. In this article we explain the relationship between diet and stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

What is a stroke?

A stroke or stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain becomes blocked by a clot or ruptures . When this happens, a part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so both it and the brain cells die.

The effects of a stroke depend primarily on the location of the obstruction or tear and the extent of the affected brain tissue . The brain is an extremely complex organ that controls various functions of the body. If a stroke occurs and blood flow cannot reach the region that controls a particular body function, that part of the body will not function as it should. However, because one side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body, a stroke that affects one side will lead to neurological complications on the side of the body that it affects.

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What is the relationship between diet and stroke exactly?

The main risk factor for suffering a stroke is found in high blood pressure: several studies have shown that, when this is adequately controlled, the incidence rates of this disease are significantly reduced. Despite all the progress made in recent years, a more effective way to prevent strokes has yet to be found than to reduce high blood pressure. Not having high blood pressure, therefore, is a priority and, in this sense, its control plays a prominent role.

How can high blood pressure be controlled so that it does not rise? As scientific research shows, the best way is through nutrition. The relationship between diet and stroke is that eating a healthy and balanced diet can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, which is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that can be absorbed from food. Too much cholesterol in the blood can cause fatty deposits to build up in the arteries and restrict blood flow, which can lead to strokes and other cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks.

The foods that most affect the relationship between diet and stroke (and what you should avoid)

In several epidemiological studies, the relationship between diet and stroke has been reported due to the important role that poor nutrition plays in the risk of stroke , and the potential of dietary modification to reduce hypertension and cholesterol has been pointed out. and, consequently, the risk of suffering a stroke. In this sense, these are the main foods that you should eliminate from your diet to reduce the risk of suffering a stroke.


Salt is an essential substance for man and for all kinds of animal life. However, over the past century, excessive consumption of salt has been shown to have harmful effects on health. Specifically, the direct relationship between excessive consumption of salt in the diet and increased blood pressure has been shown . Most adult populations around the world consume a daily average of more than 6 g per day, which exceeds the amounts recommended by health authorities.

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A series of population-based intervention studies and randomized controlled clinical trials have shown that the higher the daily sodium intake, the higher the prevalence of hypertension in the population, but also that significant reductions in blood pressure are possible. with a lower consumption of salt in people with and without previous hypertension.


Fat is one of the variables in the diet that has a direct influence on cardiovascular risk factors. For the treatment of hypercholesterolemia, fat intake should be within a limit of 25-35% of total calories, divided into ≤7% saturated fat, ≤10% polyunsaturated fat and ≤20% monounsaturated fat. Many studies suggest that the disproportion in the consumption of dietary fats in the diet can lead to the development of chronic diseases . On the other hand, the global recommendations for n-3 fatty acids for the primary prevention of coronary heart disease correspond to the regular intake of 2 servings of fish per week.

However, although the benefits attributed to the intake of fish on cardiovascular mortality have been suggested by observational studies, the effects of the consumption of fatty fish on the risk of stroke or stroke are still controversial in the scientific field. recommends not abusing its intake.

Carbohydrates (especially sugars)

Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and health recommendations regarding the daily amount to be eaten are determined by factors such as age and gender. Health authorities suggest that about half (45-65%) of daily calories should come from carbohydrates (starches, fiber, and sugars). However, there are estimates that show the risks that excessive consumption of carbohydrates implies in human health , predictably caused by an increase in the development of insulin resistance, diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular diseases. The relationship between sugar consumption and cardiovascular health has been clear since the last scientific statement of the American Heart Association (AHA), published in 2006, which includes among the recommendations on diet and lifestyle that reduction of the intake of drinks and foods with added sugars .


Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, and it has been documented that it produces an arterial vascular increase in systolic and diastolic pressure and impairs vasodilation. It is not clear if the relationship between coffee consumption and strokes is due to the potentially unfavorable effects of caffeine or the effects of polyphenols, but in any case it is clear that it increases blood pressure and therefore it is better to consume it with moderation .

How to improve your diet to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables: they are an important source of vitamins and minerals
  • Eat more fiber . Foods rich in fiber help reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Opt for whole grains, brown rice, or grains like whole wheat couscous.
  • Eat healthy protein . To reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat through protein, try eating lean cuts of meat and skinless chicken. You can also increase your intake of fish (especially fish rich in omega 3 such as mackerel, sardines or salmon) and vegetarian or vegan sources of protein such as legumes, quinoa, amaranth, tofu, textured soy or tempeh.