Folate-rich diets could help to prevent strokes, finds the results of an American survey which compiled nutritional information from almost 10,000 adults.
Reuters Health reports that new analysis of the survey suggests that it could prove that people who get enough folate in their diets seem have a lower risk of stroke than those who eat fewer folate-rich foods.
The nutritional surveys were conducted between 1971 and 1975 as part of a nationwide government health survey. The study authors also used medical records and death certificates to determine if those assessed later suffered from strokes or cardiovascular disease.
The study, carried out by Dr. Lydia Bazzano and researchers at Tulane University in New Orleans, US, found that, over an average of 19 years, people who claimed to consume the most folate were 21 per cent less likely to suffer stroke than people who ate the least amount of folate.
A growing body of research shows that extra amounts of folate, or folic acid, help reduce levels of an amino acid called homocysteine, which certain studies have suggested can decrease the risk of stroke. It has been suggested that an excess of this amino acid, which the body makes when it absorbs and uses protein, can somehow weaken the walls of the arteries that lead to the brain.
Folic acid is naturally found in fruits and vegetables. Recently, the US government mandated that manufacturers fortify grain products with folic acid, adding 140 micrograms to every 100 grams of flour, rice, pasta and cornmeal. The debate continues in the UK and Europe, where possible health risks to mothers, have so far prevented fortification of flour with the chemical.
"Our findings indicate an inverse relationship between dietary intake of folate and subsequent risk of stroke and CVD. Increasing dietary intake of folate from food sources may be an important approach to the prevention of CVD in the US population," reported the authors in the recent issue of Stroke, the journal of the American Heart Association.