How do vegetable and animal fat affect the risk of stroke?

Higher intakes of polyunsaturated fatty acids, vegetable fats, and vegetable oils were linked to reduced risk of stroke, while high intakes of red meat, processed red meat, and non-dairy animal fat were linked to increased risk of stroke, according to study results published under the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2021 from November 13th to 15th, 2021.

The researchers designed the current study to examine the relationship between stroke risk and different types of fat, total fat, and fat from different food sources. Data from 73,867 women and 43,269 men who were baseline free of cardiovascular disease and cancer were obtained from two prospective cohort studies (Nurses’ Health Study, 1984-2016, and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, 1986-2016) . Dietary fat was categorized by source and type, with intake determined using frequency of food intake questionnaires. The relationship between fat intake and stroke risk was assessed using Cox proportional hazards models.

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In 3,168,151 person-years (previous year) of follow-up, 6,189 incidental strokes (including 814 hemorrhagic and 2967 ischemic) were documented. A diet high in vegetable fat (hazard ratio) [HR] Comparison of the extreme quintiles 0.88; 95% CI, 0.81-0.96; P <0.001) or polyunsaturated fatty acids (HR 0.88; 95% CI 0.80-0.96; P = 0.002) were associated with a lower overall risk of stroke, while a diet high in non-dairy fat was associated with a increased risk (HR 1.16; 95% CI 1.05-1.29; P <0.001) for stroke. Similar associations have been observed for ischemic stroke. In hemorrhagic stroke, however, there was only one positive association with animal fat without dairy products.

Among the foods that contribute to fat intake, vegetable oil (HR per 1 serving / day 0.91; 95% CI 0.84-0.98) was associated with a lower overall risk of stroke, while red meat overall (HR 1, 08; 95% CI 1.02-1.13) and processed red meat (HR 1.12; 95% CI, 1.03-1.23) were associated with an increased risk. The association observed for vegetable oil was weakened after adjustments were made for polyunsaturated fat or vegetable fat, while adjustments for non-dairy animal fats made processed red meat and red meat overall insignificant.

“Our results show that the type of fat and the various dietary sources of fat are more important than the total amount of dietary fat in preventing cardiovascular disease, including stroke,” said Dr. Fenglei Wang, lead author of the study. “…[W]e recommend the general public to reduce the consumption of red and processed meat, to minimize the fat content of unprocessed meat during consumption and to replace lard or tallow (beef fat) with non-tropical vegetable oils such as olive oil, corn or soybean oil when cooking To lower the risk of stroke. “

Disclosure: Several study authors stated links with the pharmaceutical industry. For a full list of author disclosures, see the original reference.


Wang F, Baden MY, Rexrode KM, Hu FB. Dietary fat intake and stroke risk: results from two prospective cohort studies. Presented at: AHA Scientific Sessions 2021; 13-15 November 2021. Presentation RF160.

For full coverage of the American Heart Association’s 2021 Scientific Sessions, visit the Cardiology Advisor conference section.

This article originally appeared on The Cardiology Advisor

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