Vegetarian Diet May Lower Stroke Risk – The New York Times

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Eating a vegetarian diet may reduce the risk of stroke, according to a new report.

Researchers studied two groups of people from Buddhist communities in Taiwan. One included 5,050 people who were followed for an average of six years; the second included 8,302 followed for nine years. About a third of the people were vegetarians. The analysis is in Neurology.

Over all, there were 175 strokes. In the first group, compared to meat and fish eaters, vegetarians had a 49 percent reduced risk for stroke; in the second group, vegetarians had a 48 percent reduced risk.

The most important risk factor for stroke, the authors write, is hypertension, and the vegetarians had significantly lower rates of elevated blood pressure than those who ate meat or fish. Cholesterol levels were also lower among the vegetarians.

But even after controlling for hypertension, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, smoking, alcohol consumption, diabetes and other factors, the large reduction in stroke risk for people who avoided meat and fish remained.

The scientists acknowledge that there could be other variables that affect the risk for stroke that they were unable to track. Moreover, diet was assessed only at the start of the study and could have changed over time. Finally, the results were limited to particular communities in Taiwan and may not be generalizable to other populations.

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