Eating a diet rich in vegetables, nuts and soya protein could reduce the risk of stroke according to a new Taiwanese study.
Published in the medical journal of American Academy of Neurology, researchers in Taiwan recently discovered that people who follow a diet low in animal protein could be protected against having a stroke.
The study followed two groups of people from the Buddhist community in Taiwan, where vegetarian diets are encouraged and consumption of alcohol and smoking is discouraged.
The first group included over 5000 people, who were followed up for an average of six years and the second group included more than 8000 people, followed up over an average of nine years.
The researchers compared these people against the national database to determine the number of strokes that occurred over that period of time.
Adjusting for confounding factors (such as age, and known conditions that may cause stroke, such as diabetes and high blood pressure), the researchers noted that the vegetarians in the first had a 74% lower risk of the ischaemic type of stroke than non-vegetarians.
In the second group, the overall risk reduction was 48% for all types of stroke, with 60% for ischaemic and 65% for haemorrhagic type.
These types of study do not find cause and effect, so it cannot prove that vegetarian diets are responsible for prevention against stroke, but they do find strong associations, which can be enough in some cases to recommend plant-based diets when pooled together with other studies finding the same results.
It must also be stressed that these groups refrained from smoking and drinking, which may have influenced the strokes recorded in the general population.
Whilst Veggie & Spice promote the adoption of plant-based diets for better human health, better animal welfare and promotion of environmental protection, there is no scientific evidence that suggests consuming small amounts of animal protein in a flexitarian diet is detrimental to health.