Every three minutes someone dies from a stroke and stroke is the nation’s number three killer, but there’s a new (old) way to reduce stroke risk, Mediterranean-style diet. Overall, the researchers led by Dr. Ayesha Sherzai, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, found that following a Mediterranean-type diet reduced the risk for a ischemic strokes (lack of oxygen-rich blood it to the brain).

Researchers analyzed data from more than 104,000 teachers in California, averaging 52 years of age, who are taking part in a long-term study. Researchers studied the relationship between dietary patterns and heart disease, mental decline and death.

Stroke is a major concern in America. “With stroke being one of the biggest disease burdens in the U.S. and throughout the world, and treatments not being as extensive as we would like them to be, diet is a risk factor that people can control,” explains Sherzai

The study found no benefit of the diet when it came to strokes caused by uncontrolled bleeding in the brain. Such hemorrhagic strokes cause the remaining 20% of all strokes.

Sherzia notes, “We aren’t saying that everybody has to strictly follow a Mediterranean diet, because we now know the components of this diet that are important. Eating a mostly plant-based diet and eating less meat and saturated fats can make a real difference in stroke risk.” She adds that most people should at least consider making small but significant and manageable changes to diet—switching from butter to olive oil, for example, or reducing red meats and increasing more fish for proteins or eating more nuts—to take advantage of these benefits.

Mediterranean diet include food items like fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole-grain breads, olives, olive oil and cereals, which are healthy monounsaturated fat.

The Mediterranean-style diet also counts on eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as sardines, trout, tuna and salmon, and also having wine and poultry with meals in moderate amount.

The diet does not allow too much consumption of sweets, processed meat and also red meats. Mediterranean-style diet may have a number of different effects on the body. As a result it leads to lower risk of deaths from high blood pressure, obesity and type 2 diabetes apart from other types of heart diseases.