If you want to lower your risk of stroke, eliminating meat from your diet may not be the way to go.
A new study that spanned 18 years found that vegans and vegetarians had a 20% higher risk of stroke than people who ate meat. That translated to three more people out of a thousand having a stroke over the course of 10 years. Not a huge amount, perhaps, but still a difference.
If this sounds like free rein to eat as much meat as you’d like, hold on, there’s more. The same study examined the risk of ischemic [ish-KEY-mic] heart disease in meat eaters and non-meat eaters. Results showed a lower risk of ischemic heart disease in those who did not eat meat.
With this type of heart disease, there are blockages in the coronary arteries that supply the blood needed by the heart muscle to stay strong and healthy.
You may be wondering: How could a vegan or vegetarian diet be potentially better for heart health while possibly being worse for brain health?
It might all have to do with cholesterol. Specifically, the so-called “bad” kind of cholesterol, known as LDL. Research has linked a low LDL level with a higher risk of stroke. But LDL is also thought to be bad for the heart.
What’s a careful eater to do? As the researchers note, heart disease is far more common than stroke, so eating to avoid heart disease may actually be the better choice. As always, more research is needed to better understand the implications for human diet and health.
In the meantime, do your brain and your heart both some good with a daily dose of exercise. That’s a winning recipe, for sure.