Certain type of vegetarian diet found to drastically reduce stroke risk

A newly published study that followed two large groups of adults in Taiwan found that eating a vegetarian diet high in certain foods may drastically reduce one's stroke risk. The groups were followed for nearly a decade, during which time the researchers identified dozens of strokes and linked diet data to them. The benefits were in comparison to vegetarians that ate fish and people who eat meat.

The research was recently published in the American Academy of Neurology's journal Neurology. As part of their work, the researchers focused on two large groups of people from Buddhist communities where people are more likely to eat a vegetarian diet and avoid vices like alcohol and smoking. The two groups involved around 14,000 people combined.

Of those participants, the study notes that around 30-percent in each group were vegetarians, a quarter of whom were men. In this case, 'vegetarian' means people who ate no meat or fish, excluding pescatarians who are sometimes grouped in with vegetarians. None of the participants had a history of stroke at the time of the study; they had an average age of 50.

After following up with these participants over several years, the study found that people who ate vegetarian diets high in soy, nuts, and vegetables had a considerably lower risk of suffering from stroke, including a 74-percent lower risk of ischemic stroke compared to people who ate meat (in the first group).

The numbers were similar for participants in the second group, which found a 60-percent lower risk of ischemic stroke. This isn't the first study to associate vegetarian diets with a lowered risk of stroke, though one recent study did suggest that vegetarians who don't get adequate levels of cholesterol and B12 may be at elevated stroke risk.