Stroke is a leading cause of death and physical disability worldwide. In the United States alone, Someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke. And Shockingly, over 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke annually.
New research suggests that people who eat a diet rich in veggies, nuts, and soy may have a much lower chance of having a stroke, than people who eat a diet that includes meat and fish. This report comes out of the Medical Journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
“Stroke is the second most common cause of death worldwide and a leading cause of disability,” said study author Chin-Lon Lin, M.D., of Tzu Chi University in Hualien, Taiwan. “Stroke can also contribute to dementia. If we could reduce the number of strokes by people making changes to their diets, that would have a major impact on overall public health.”
This very important and comprehensive new study involved two groups of people from Buddhist temples in Taiwan where a vegetarian diet is encouraged, and mostly followed. Other bad habits such as smoking and alcohol intake is also mostly avoided in this community. Roughly 30% of participants in both groups were vegetarians. 215% of the vegetarian group were men.
The average age of participants was 50. Most were generally healthy with no history of stroke. The first group, which consisted of 5,050 people were observed for 6 years. The second group, consisting of 8,302 individuals were followed for 9 years. Both groups were given extensive medical exams prior to the start of the study. They were also quizzed about their current diets. People were followed for an average of nine years. All participants were given medical exams at the start of the study and asked about their diet.
The individuals in the Vegetarian group consumed a diet that consisted of a lot of nuts, vegetables, some eggs, fruit, and soy. Their diets contained more fiber and protein from plant sources.
The non-vegetarian group consumed some of the same foods the vegetarian group, but their diets contained meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Most of their protein was from animal sources
The doctors then examined a national database to determine the number of strokes participants experienced during the course of the study.
In the first group of 5,050 people, there were 54 strokes. For ischemic strokes, which are strokes when blood flow to part of the brain is blocked, there were three strokes among 1,424 vegetarians, or 0.21%, compared to 28 strokes among 3,626 non-vegetarians, or 0.77%. After adjusting for age, sex, smoking, and health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, researchers found vegetarians in this group had a 74% lower risk of ischemic stroke than non-vegetarians.
In the second group of 8,302 people, there were 121 strokes. For both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, also called bleeding strokes, there were 24 strokes among 2,719 vegetarians, or 0.88%, compared to 97 strokes among 5,583 non-vegetarians, or 1.73%. After adjusting for other factors, researchers found vegetarians in this group had a 48% lower risk of overall stroke than non-vegetarians, a 60% lower risk of ischemic stroke, and a 65% lower risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
The study clearly presented evidence that a vegetarian diet was very beneficial in staving off risks of a stroke. This was the case even after other health factors such as blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and fats in the blood were taken into consideration,” said Lin “
This could mean that perhaps there is some other protective mechanisms that may protect those who eat a vegetarian diet from a stroke.”
Many vegetarians/vegans have attested to superior health and longevity benefits of such a diet for decades. I have been a vegan since 1982. My blood pressure, weight, and overall health is still the same as it was when I was a teenager. I’m in my 60s now.