Many foods have been suggested to influence the risk of stroke. However, no previous studies have examined the relationship between overall dietary patterns and risk of stroke.
Using dietary information collected in 1984 from 71,768 women aged 38 to 63 years without a history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes in 1984, we conducted factor analysis and identified 2 major dietary patterns: "prudent" and "Western." We calculated scores for each participant for each pattern and prospectively examined their associations with stroke risk using a proportional hazard model, adjusting for other stroke risk factors.
The prudent pattern was characterized by higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, and whole grains, whereas the Western pattern by higher intakes of red and processed meats, refined grains, and sweets and desserts. During 14 years of follow-up, we identified 791 incidents of stroke, with 476 ischemic and 189 hemorrhagic strokes. After adjusting for potential confounders, we observed a relative risk (RR) of 1.58 (95% CI, 1.15 to 2.15; P=0.0002 for trend) for total strokes and 1.56 (95% CI, 1.05 to 2.33; P=0.02 for trend) for ischemic stroke when comparing the highest with lowest quintiles of the Western pattern. For the prudent pattern, the RRs comparing extreme quintiles were 0.78 (95% CI, 0.61 to 1.01) for total stroke and 0.74 (95% CI, 0.54 to 1.02) for ischemic stroke.
These data suggest that a dietary pattern typified by higher intakes of red and processed meats, refined grains, and sweets and desserts may increase stroke risk, whereas a diet higher in fruits and vegetables, fish, and whole grains may protect against stroke.