Stroke warning: The healthy breakfast item linked to a ‘higher risk’ of having a stroke

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A stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition that happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. A telltale symptom to watch out for is your face drooping to one side. The complication requires a rapid response: the sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen. Naturally, prevention is better than cure and you can modify your risk by overhauling your diet.

Knowing what to eat and avoid may seem patently obvious, but research occasionally throws up findings that blur the lines.

One surprising finding is that eggs may be linked to an increased risk of having a stroke.

That’s the conclusion of a study published in the European Heart Journal.

The finding is particularly eye-popping because eggs are an abundant source of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D, A and B2.

Researchers investigated the associations between major foods and dietary fibre with subtypes of stroke in a large prospective cohort.

They analysed data on 418, 329 men and women from nine European countries, with an average of 12.7 years of follow-up.

Diet was assessed using validated country-specific questionnaires which asked about habitual intake over the past year.

The researchers examined the relationship between incidence of stroke and consumption of red and processed meat, poultry, fish, dairy foods, eggs, cereals, fruit and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and dietary fibre.

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For ischaemic stroke, lower risks were observed with higher consumption of fruit and vegetables combined, dietary fibre, milk and cheese.

Red meat was associated with an increased risk, which is not altogether surprising.

However, “for haemorrhagic stroke, higher risk was associated with higher egg consumption”, the researchers observed.

“Risk of ischaemic stroke was inversely associated with consumption of fruit and vegetables, dietary fibre, and dairy foods, while risk of haemorrhagic stroke was positively associated with egg consumption,” they concluded.

Ischaemic strokes are the most common type of stroke and haemorrhagic strokes (also known as cerebral haemorrhages or intracranial haemorrhages) are less common than ischaemic strokes.

Conflicting evidence

The findings are far from conclusive. The study does not establish a causal link but merely an association. What’s more, other studies have not found a link between egg consumption and a raised risk of stroke.

In fact, one study published in the American College of Nutrition reported that eating up to one egg per day was associated with a 12 percent reduction of stroke risk.

The findings come from reviewing and analysing studies from 1982 to 2014, which evaluated relationships between egg intake and coronary heart disease (including a total of 276,000 people) and stroke (a total of 308,000 people).

They found that having one egg a day, compared to two eggs or less per week was linked to a 12 percent reduced risk of stroke.

The reductions in risk were linked to the two most common types of stroke (ischaemic and haemorrhagic) as well as for fatal stroke.

However, the knotty business of disentangling cause and effect also means the results should be met with caution.

“It may be possible that those who consume eggs regularly may engage in other favourable dietary and lifestyle habits”, the study paper stated.

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