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In the last couple of decades, vegan and vegetarian diets have become increasingly popular, promising to reduce the risk of ischaemic heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and various types of cancer.
Although, researchers still do not fully comprehend how quitting animal products affect the brain and body. Now, new research discovered at least one potential risk of vegan and vegetarian diets: an increased risk of stroke.
The Ischaemic Heart Disease Vegetarian Study
The study was published in the British Medical Journal, and researchers looked at the potential risk factors linked to stroke and ischaemic heart disease.
Over 18 years, they tracked the health of 48,188 women and men living in Oxford. Each volunteer was put into one of three groups: meat-eater or fish-eater and vegetarian (including vegans).
None of these volunteers had any history of stroke, ischaemic heart disease, or cardiovascular disease. In addition, the scientists considered other risk factors, such as smoking habits, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and education level.
Ischaemic Heart Disease Study Results
The results indicated that vegetarians had a 20% higher chance of stroke than meat-eaters. However, vegetarians had a 22% lower chance of developing heart disease.
The scientists proposed this might be because vegetarians and vegans typically have lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body mass index (BMI), and have lower chances of diabetes.
Why is there a higher risk of stroke amongst vegetarians?
Unfortunately, the study could not specify an exact biological cause. Instead, the scientist’s provided references from several studies that show:
“…that people who lack an intake of meat products had an increased occurrence and mortality from ischaemic heart attack and total stroke, and they have a higher risk of ischaemic stroke mortality, showing that some aspects associated with animal product consumption may protect from a stroke.”
Vegetarians Lack Several Vital Nutrients
The researchers wrote that vegetarians and vegans could suffer from a lack of several types of vital nutrients, which leads to things such as ischaemic heart disease.
“Vegans and vegetarians in the EPIC-Oxford group had lower circulating levels of some nutrients (e.g., essential amino acids, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and polyunsaturated fatty acids), and variations in some of the nutritional factors might contribute to the detected associations.”
These results do not necessarily show you that you must change your diet. More important is to be sure that you are consuming high-quality foods.
One way to quickly improve your diet is for meat-eaters to avoid all processed foods. There is a massive body of research to show that it can cause multiple diseases and shorten lifespan.
Also, eating organic foods might be worth the increase in cost for both meat-eaters and vegetarians.
A study from 2018, for example, showed that people who only ate organic foods were about 25% less likely to get certain kinds of cancer than people who ate “regular” diets.