Plant-based diets and risk of stroke

  1. The prevalence of stroke is increasing with 1 in 4 people experiencing a stroke in their lifetime.
  2. Ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke are associated with different dietary factors.
  3. Ischaemic stroke is by far the commonest form of stroke and shares the same risk factors as ischaemic heart disease.
  4. Eating more dietary fibre especially from fruits and vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of ischaemic stroke with additional benefits for prevention of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes etc..
  5. Egg consumption is not necessary in the diet and may increase risk of haemorrhagic stroke. Previous studies have also shown increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  6. Although dairy consumption was beneficial in the EPIC study, we know that it is not essential if you centre your diet around whole plant foods.
  7. Red and processed meat consumption has consistently been associated with an increased risk of ischaemic stroke. If you are going to eat red and processed meat, keep it to a bare minimum and make sure you eat it with lots of fruits and vegetables. However, red and processed meat is best avoided and this recommendation is supported by major international guidelines.
  8. As always, more data are needed to make a conclusion on the impact of vegetarian and vegan diets on stroke risk but its important to stick to a healthy plant-based diet for overall health and minimise the consumption of processed, unhealthy plant-based foods.
  9. The benefits to heart health and for ischaemic stroke far outweigh any potential increase in haemorrhagic stroke risk with a vegetarian or vegan diet.

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