Eating This Snack Could Slash Your Stroke Risk, Study Says

Adding this snake to your daily diet can make a big impact on your brain's health.

Whether your go-to snack is a bowl of fruit or a handful of chips, your daily eating habits can greatly shape your wellbeing. Aside from your physical health, something to consider is how what you eat can affect your brain, including your stroke risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 800,000 Americans a year suffer a stroke, making this blockage of blood flood in the brain a leading cause of death in the U.S. And although there's no telling when a stroke can happen, studies show that some small changes to your diet can decrease your chances. To see which snack can slash your stroke risk and boost your body and your brain's overall health, read on.

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Adding half a serving of mixed nuts a day to your diet can decrease your stroke risk.

Handful of assorted nuts

A 2020 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA) set out to discover how nut consumption can affect your stroke risk. They examined 34,103 men from the 1986 to 2012 Health Professionals Follow‐Up Study (HPFS), 77,815 women from the 1986 to 2012 Nurses' Health Study (NHS), and 80,737 women from another NHS study, which took place from 1991 to 2013. All participants took a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) every four years, showing how much their nut consumption changed over time. They were asked how often they had 28 grams (one serving) of peanuts or nuts. The JAHA then converted this nut consumption frequency to how many servings participants had a day. Frequency ranges from one to three servings per month to four to six servings per day. The nuts included peanuts, and tree nuts like walnuts, almonds, and cashews.

Results found that over a four-year period, participants who decreased their nut consumption by more than .50 servings a day had a higher risk of stroke, compared to those who did not change their nut consumption. When participants added .5 servings of nuts per day to their diets, their stroke risk went down by 11 percent.

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Replacing certain foods with nuts can affect your stroke risk.


Consistency, in regards to nut consumption, proved to make a big impact. The study found that when compared to participants who didn't eat nuts at all over the four years, those who maintained a high-nut consumption had a lower risk of stroke.

Big changes in your diet can keep that risk low for a long time, as well. Individuals who increased how many nuts they ate, from zero to up to .50 servings a day, had a lower risk of developing a stroke over the next four years than those who didn't eat this snack at all.

Eating specific foods can help keep your brain healthy. Results explained that an increase in walnut consumption is associated with a lower risk of stroke. Nuts, in general, can also function as a healthy substitute for foods like processed meat, desserts, and chips. More specifically, decreasing consumption of red meat by .5 servings a day and increasing consumption of nuts by .5 servings a day can lower stroke risk by 7 to 13 percent.

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Nuts can also lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.

Brunette model hand holding glass hermetic pot with mix of nuts.

Research has continued to show that nuts can help strengthen other parts of your body, including your heart. The JAHA study found that increasing nut consumption by .5 servings a day is associated with an 8 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and a 6 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).

Similar to stroke risk, nut intake can keep your CVD and CHD risk low for a long period of time. Throughout a four-year period, participants who increased their nut consumption, from 0 to .5 servings or more a day had a lower risk of developing CVD or CHD in the next four years than those who didn't eat any nuts at all.

When combined with a Mediterranean diet, nuts can slash your risk of incident of type 2 diabetes.


Aside from your heart disease and stroke risk, when you add nuts to a certain type of diet, it can significantly decrease your risk of incident diabetes. In a 2019 study published in Diabetes Care, researchers looked at 418 nondiabetic individuals who took part in the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea [PREDIMED] study in Spain. All participants were either advised to reduce how much fat they ate (a low-fat diet), on a Mediterranean dietwhich consists of fruits, vegetables, and grainsthat included nuts, or a Mediterranean diet that included extra-virgin olive oil. The median follow-up time for this study was four years.

The researchers at Diabetes Care then examined all three of these diets to see how and if they affect incident diabetes. Results show that 10.1 percent of participants on the Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil, 11 percent of those on the Mediterranean diet with nuts, and 17.9 percent of those on the low-fat diet developed diabetes. However, when compared to the low-fat diet, both of these Mediterranean diets showed a 52 percent decrease in diabetes incidence. So, with the help of fruits and vegetables, nuts can have an even stronger benefit to your health.

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