Healthy eating equals healthy life. Turns out the pack of oreos you just consumed is not exactly friendly to your health. Luckily there’s a diet just as good that can improve your health.

Enter the Mediterranean Diet. You’ve probably heard of it, but here’s a quick primer. It’s rich in vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Dairy, meat and sugar are limited in the diet, so you’ll have to put down the burger. I know, it pains me too.

The latest study points out the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet and the reduced risk of strokes. Not just ischemic strokes, but also a reduction in risk of hemorrhagic strokes.

Using the California Teachers Study, researchers were able to collect data on dietary habits and stroke risk. They saw an 18% reduction in ischemic stroke risk. Those women that followed the diet the closest saw the greatest benefit.

The team also adjusted for other physical parameters including smoking, physical activity and cardiovascular risks and found the risk reduction still present.

Lead author, neurologist Dr. Ayesha Sherazi explained the importance of diet and stroke.

With stroke being one of the biggest disease burdens in the U.S. and throughout the world, and treatments not being as extensive as we would like them to be, diet is a risk factor that people can control,” Sherzai said.

The team says the new analysis used a validated 9-point Mediterranean diet scoring system. “The question was ‘In a U.S. population of women, what is the association between adhering to the Mediterranean diet and stroke risk, specifically stroke subtypes?” she said. “That hasn’t really been studied.”

American Heart Association Stroke Prevention

Last fall, the American Heart Association revised its guidelines to help people at-risk reduce their chance of stroke. The Mediterranean Diet was at the top of dietary changes recommended.

A randomized trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed the diet had promise in reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Those that are not onboard with a complete switch shouldn’t be discouraged. The researchers are not saying to switch to the diet today. It is all about borrowing components of the diet. Eat more vegetables and healthy fats. Avoid eating a lot of meat and dairy. Yeah, I know. Avoid all the awesome food.

“We aren’t saying that everybody has to strictly follow a Mediterranean diet, because we now know the components of this diet that are important,” she said. “Eating a mostly plant-based diet and eating less meat and saturated fats can make a real difference in stroke risk.”

Simple changes to your diet can begin to reduce your risk. It may not be the Mediterranean Diet, but changing from butter to olive oil is a solid step.

Cutting back on sugar and whole-fat dairy products is another sizable step. Besides, most sweets today seem to take the diabetes in a serving approach. Everything tastes entirely too sweet. Moderation? What the hell is that?

In the end, we are what we eat. If we are wrecking the snack aisle at the grocery store, our health will suffer. Besides, have you ever eaten an awesome bowl of vegetables and said that tastes horrible? Probably not. It’s all about habits.

And these new habits may just help you live a longer and healthier life. Win-win.

The study was presented at the 2015 International Stroke Conference by the American Heart Association.

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