Plant-based diets linked to ‘higher stroke risk’

Can a vegan or vegetarian diet be linked to higher stoke risk? New research published in the British Medical Journal claims so.

Healthy Diet

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Plant-based diets linked to ‘higher stroke risk’

While there are advantages to plant-based diets that remain undisputed (lowering the risk of heart disease, for example), research published in the British Medical Journal suggests that these diet choices ca be linked to a higher stroke risk.

Looking at 48,000 people over 15 years, the research shows that vegans and vegetarians had a 20% higher risk of stroke. The researchers behind the study indicate that this could be linked to low levels of vitamin B12, but more research is needed to qualify this.

While medical history, smoking and physical activity were all also taken into account with the study, the scientists do add that the association between stroke and diet might just reflect the differences in lifestyle between the people that do eat meat, and those that don’t.

Is veganism healthy?

The general consensus is that, yes, eating a plant-based diet is still a healthy option, even with this slight decrease in B12, which is linked to higher stroke risk.

Commenting on the study, Dr Frankie Phillips from the British Dietetic Association adds:

“They looked at what people ate and followed them for years, so it’s an association, not cause-and-effect. The message, for everyone, is it makes sense to have a well-planned diet, and to eat a wide variety of foods.

“Meat-eaters don’t necessarily have a varied diet, because they might live on meat and potatoes for dinner every night and not have any vegetables.”

Dr Phillips also adds: “This is data that’s been collected from a couple of decades ago. It might well be that the typical vegetarian diet today looks very different to a vegetarian or vegan diet from 20 or 30 years ago.

“The range of vegetarian and vegan convenience foods has escalated massively. It’s a lot more mainstream.”

This story originally appeared on BBC News.

Interested to learn more about a plant-based diet? Take a look at our healthy recipes here