Saturated Fats and Stroke

by | Dec 27, 2023

Learn about the link between saturated fats and stroke risk and impact of consuming high levels of saturated fats, found in foods like red meat, full-fat dairy, and processed meats, on cardiovascular health. Discover healthier fat alternatives and dietary choices to reduce the risk of stroke and promote overall well-being.
eating healthy with salmon meal prep containers

The Link Between Stroke and Saturated Fats

 

Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and a major public health concern worldwide due to the devastating effect it can have on sufferers. Blood supply to an area of the brain can be disrupted, either due to a blockage of an artery that prevents blood from reaching the brain (ischemic stroke) or bleeding within the brain itself (hemorrhagic stroke). This is how a stroke deprives brain cells of essential nutrients and oxygen. While genetics and age play a role, saturated fat intake, in particular, has been strongly linked to an elevated risk of stroke. That said, what is the relationship between saturated fats and stroke? How can eating healthy help with stroke prevention?

Saturated Fats Basics

Dietary fats are grouped into three categories based on their chemical structure: saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats.

  • Saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature and come mainly from animal sources like red meat and full-fat dairy. Eating a lot of saturated fat can raise total low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol in the blood.
  • Unsaturated fats, usually liquid at room temperature, are found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. Unsaturated fats may help lower LDL levels and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also called “good” cholesterol.
  • Artificial trans fats are formed when unsaturated fat is processed into a solid form. These fats, found in processed foods, are especially harmful and should be avoided.

Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats have been conclusively shown to raise LDLs and decrease good cholesterol levels, which significantly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Why are Saturated Fats Unhealthy?

 

Saturated fats are unhealthy because they raise bad cholesterol levels in the blood. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance naturally present in the body. Although it plays a vital role in building healthy cells and producing hormones, too much LDL cholesterol in the blood isn’t healthy. When we consume foods that are high in saturated fat, our liver produces more LDL cholesterol and transports it through the bloodstream.

LDL cholesterol then accumulates in the inner walls of the arteries as plaque—over time, high LDL levels from a diet rich in saturated fats can cause plaque to narrow the arteries. Severely narrowed arteries reduce blood flow, which in turn increases the risk of strokes. The buildup of plaque in the arteries is directly linked to how saturated fats increase LDL cholesterol levels. As plaque accumulates from sustained high cholesterol, it eventually blocks an artery. If the blocked artery supplies blood to the brain, a stroke occurs.

Food Examples that Contain Saturated Fats

Here are some examples of food that are high in saturated fats.

Animal fats:

  • Beef fat (tallow)
  • Pork fat (lard)
  • Lamb fat

Dairy products:

  • Butter
  • Cheese (especially hard cheeses)
  • Cream
  • Whole milk

Poultry fat:

  • Chicken fat
  • Duck fat

Processed meats:

  • Sausages
  • Bacon
  • Hot dogs

Palm oil and coconut oil: These plant-based oils are high in saturated fats, unlike most vegetable oils.

Food Examples that Contain Unsaturated Fats

 

Monounsaturated fats:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Nuts (e.g., almonds, peanuts, cashews)
  • Seeds (e.g., sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds)
  • Canola oil

Polyunsaturated fats:

  • Fatty fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, trout)
  • Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil

These unsaturated fats, especially when they replace saturated fats in the diet, have been associated with various health benefits, including a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s important to include a variety of fats in your diet and focus on obtaining a balanced ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats for optimal health. Please speak to a healthcare professional for nutrition expert before starting your diet.

High Cholesterol and Saturated Fat

 

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends consuming less than 300mg of cholesterol daily and limiting saturated fat intake to 5–6% of total calories. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s about 20g or less daily. Maintaining total cholesterol under 200 mg/dL and LDL under 100 mg/dL can promote brain health, effectively reducing stroke risk.

 

Recommendations

To help minimize stroke risk from plaque buildup, focus on unsaturated fats like olive, canola, and nut oils. Choose lean cuts of meat and low- or non-fat dairy. Include more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fish in your meals for beneficial fiber, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Though making gradual substitutions in your cooking and diet is a sustainable way to improve your cholesterol levels, it’s highly advisable to consult a stroke specialist for early intervention.

Our stroke specialist in Singapore can review your medical/family history, run tests, and create a customized plan to lower your risk factors and help you live healthier. The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic serves patients locally and globally. Stroke is a journey and we are here for you take the first step toward reducing your stroke risk.

Stroke and Healthy Eating

Learn how to avoid stroke by eating healthy. Discover tips and strategies for healthier food choices and improving your well-being.

We Support Your Brain Health at Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic

 

By working with an experienced stroke specialist in Singapore, you can decrease your risk of a stroke and manage potential risk factors more effectively. Reach out to the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic to connect with our specialized stroke clinic and Dr. Manish Taneja. We handle various stroke conditions and treatments and will work closely with you and your loved ones to create a tailored plan.

Consult a Stroke Specialist in Singapore

 

Dr. Manish Taneja, is an expert in endovascular and image guided neurointerventional procedures of brain and spine. It’s important to find a stroke specialist and doctor you can trust in Singapore. He has special interest in treatment of brain aneurysms, stroke and vascular malformations. Come in for a further evaluation. Arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our stroke specialist.

 

Dr. Manish Taneja performing surgery

Stroke Resources

Transient Ischemic Attack: What You Need to Know

Not all people get strokes. However, for those who are well, warning signs of stroke can still happen. You might have heard of Transient Ischemic Stroke (TIA), which can lead to a future possible stroke.

Friends making salad

We’ve Got You Covered for Specialized Stroke Screening, Prevention, and Management

 

Imagine heart attacks where the blood flow to your heart is blocked. Similarly, a stroke occurs when the blood flow to your brain is interrupted becoming a “brain attack”. When blood supply does not reach a certain part, brain cells begin to die. Different types of stroke include ischaemic strokes (blockage of blood vessel due to blood clot) or a mini stroke, a TIA (transient ischemic attack), with no permanent damage yet serious. Stroke also occurs when a blood vessel in the brain pops causing bleeding in the brain.

Certain areas of the brain can be affected by stroke and some symptoms of a stroke including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood sugar levels increase the risk of stroke whereas an active lifestyle or controlling high cholesterol reduces the risk. How well do you know stroke? Find tips to prevent and manage stroke, the differences in stroke screening tests, and the newer technology and treatments available.

Supreme Vascular and Interventional Stroke Programs

Brain Aneurysm Resources

Discover brain aneurysm resources that go beyond the basics designed for patients. Understand the meaning of  a brain aneurysm condition, the causes, symptoms, signs, and more. Connect with your brain health.

Put Brain Aneurysm on Your Health Radar

Did you experience the worst headache of your life? Could it be a brain aneurysm that ruptures, which means bleeding in the brain? Thoughts could be racing through your mind. Then what is the difference between unruptured (a weak or thin spot on an artery in the brain that balloons) or ruptured brain aneurysm? If you’re wondering, then the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is here to help. It’s important to look out for the tell-tale brain aneurysm symptoms, signs, causes, and risk factors.

Dr. Manish Taneja has been performing brain aneurysm treatments since 1995 from surgical clipping to latest minimally invasive procedures. Each patient is unique as is the size and location of the aneurysm. Your brain has different conditions to treat the aneurysm and artery vessel walls of a blood vessel in the brain. This calls for personalised brain aneurysm treatment depending on your symptoms, family, history, medication, and more. A simple CT scan could be just what the doctor ordered and the first step in early detection and prevention of a brain aneurysm. Come in for an easy consultation with our brain aneurysm specialist in Singapore to be on your health radar.

Other Health Conditions

The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is your “go-to” facility for various neurological conditions and treatments. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our neurointervention specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation.