Plant-Based Diets Help Fight Stroke
A new study shows that healthy plant-based diets can reduce your risk of stroke. Learn why in this research update.
Plant-based diets are good for you in numerous ways. Packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and phytochemicals, we know that plant-based diets—including vegan, vegetarian, and semi-vegetarian diets—can help fight heart disease, helping to lower your blood cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. And another underlying cardiovascular benefit is a reduced risk of stroke. That’s what the science is increasingly pointing out. In fact, a recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that balanced and healthy plant-based diets low in certain foods—like refined grains, potatoes, and added sugars—may lead to a lower risk of stroke. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as plant-based diets are linked with lower blood pressure levels, an important factor in warding off strokes.
Currently, evidence surrounding plant-based diets has suggested that consuming a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, plant-based protein, seeds and nuts, and whole grains can have a myriad of benefits. But it’s not just any plant-based food linked with health benefits. This new study specifically focused on whether a healthy plant-based diet was related to lower stroke risk—the researchers specified “healthy,” because something like potato chips may be plant-based but not full of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that might actually help prevent stroke.
The researchers in this study looked at several older sets of health data from individuals who did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer at the time they began the study. Every two to four years, these same individuals were asked to fill out a dietary questionnaire, and this continued for more than 25 years. The researchers classified the diets based on healthfulness of the plant-based foods that they recorded in their questionnaires.
The researchers found that a healthy plant-based diet was linked with a 10% reduction in overall stroke risk. Additionally, a healthy plant-based diet was associated with a small reduction in ischemic stroke risk. However, the researchers did not find any link between an overall vegetarian diet and reduced stroke risk, which they suggested might be because of a higher proportion of low-quality foods in these individuals’ diets. Overall, the results point to the benefits of a high-quality plant-based diet in reducing risk of stroke.
Read more about this study published in Neurology here.
For other plant-based research updates, check out the following:
Main Image: Marinated Tofu Salad from Sharon’s upcoming book on plant-based eating and diabetes.
Get inspired to reduce your risk of stroke with these healthy, delicious plant-based recipes: