Blog | Friday, February 20, 2009

Brain food


Food studies are a staple (pun intended) of medical conferences, and International Stroke Conference 2009 is no exception. As usual, tea and coffee are front and center in the research, though fast food gives them a run for their money. Without further ado:

--Three cups of green or black tea per day lower one's risk of ischemic stroke by 21%, according to a meta-analysis of tea studies from around the world. Pooled results of the 10 studies that examined tea consumption and ischemic stroke found black tea reduced risk by 24%, and green tea by 21%.

--Lest you think you need to swap your morning cuppa joe for tea, take heart: Coffee is also associated with reduced stroke prevalence, an analysis of national health survey data (NHANES III) found. The more you drink, the lower your risk--despite the fact that many heavy coffee drinkers also smoke. Stroke prevalence went from 5% for those who drank 1-2 cups per day, to 2.9% for those who drank more than six cups a day. Cardiac disease, diabetes and hypertension also declined as cups of coffee went up. Could it be that the fountain of youth spurts coffee instead of water?

--To avoid temptation, you might want to skip buying that coffee (or tea) at a fast food restaurant: People who live in neighborhoods with lots of fast food restaurants have a higher stroke risk. Specifically, for each fast food restaurant in a neighborhood, the relative risk rose by 1%. Authors cautioned that this is a correlation--they don't know if the fast food causes the higher risk, or if fast food restaurants are merely a marker of unhealthy neighborhoods. Admittedly, these results seem sort of obvious, but it's interesting that they held up even after researchers controlled for demographic and socioeconomic factors.