National & International

Vegetarian diets ‘link to higher stroke risk’

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Studies confirm that vegan and vegetarian diets lower the risk of heart disease but raise the risk of having a stroke, according to BBC News.

The research, which was published in the British Medical Journal, looked at 48,000 for up to 18 years.

The vegans and vegetarians had 10 fewer cases of coronary heart disease, but 3 more cases of stroke than the meat-eaters.

The research analyses data from the EPIC-Oxford study, a major long-term research project looking into diets and health. Half of the participants, recruited between 1993 and 2001, were meat-eaters, just over 16,000 were vegan or vegetarian and 7,500 were pescetarian [fish-eaters].

All participants were asked about their diets when they joined the study and again in 2010. Medical history, smoking and amount of exercise they did were also taken into account.

The pescatarians were discovered to have 13% lower risk of coronary heart disease [CHD] than the meat-eaters, while the vegetarians and vegans had a 22% lower risk. However, those on plant based diets had a 20% higher risk of stroke.

Researchers suggested this could be linked to low vitamin B12, but also said that more study was needed to investigate this connection. It is also entirely possible that the association has nothing to do with diets and may just reflect other differences in the lives of people who are not meat-eaters.

Dr Frankie Phillips, from the British Dietetic Association, says: “The message, for everyone, is it makes sense to have a well-planned diet, and to eat a wide variety of foods.”

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