Following a Mediterranean diet has been linked to lower risk of all-cause mortality and ischemic heart disease.

But little is know about the effect of this diet on stroke or its effect among minority populations that have an increased risk of vascular disease.

This study investigated what effect adherence to a Mediterranean diet had on the risk of vascular events (ischemic stroke, heart attack, or vascular death) among an ethnically diverse population.

At the start of the study, researchers collected information on diet from 2,568 participants in the Northern Manhattan Study. About half (55%) of the participants were Hispanic, 24% were black, and 21% were white.

During the average 9-year follow-up there were 171 ischemic strokes, 133 heart attacks, and 314 vascular deaths. As adherence to the Mediterranean diet increased, the risk of the composite outcome of ischemic stroke, heart attack, and vascular death decreased.

When researchers looked at the effect of diet on each of those three outcomes separately they found that greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with a significant reduction in vascular deaths, a marginally reduced risk of heart attack, and no protective effect against stroke.

More research is needed to find out more about the effect of the Mediterranean diet on stroke risk, say the authors.