Eating Meat Reduces Stroke Risk? New Study Says Yes

Sorry vegans and vegetarians, a new study shows that meat-eaters may have a lower risk of stroke than their herbivore counterparts. It’s been long believed that those who consume less meat have a lower risk of stroke, but this new study is turning that on its head.

It isn’t all good news for those who prefer a steak to broccoli, but it’s something.

Shutterstock meat good for your heart feat
Shutterstock

The Study Itself

The study was published int eh British Medical Journal and looked at 48,000 people over the course of 18 years. It showed that per 1,000 people in the study, vegetarians and vegans had 3 more strokes on average.

The downside for your bacon lovers? There were 10 fewer cases of heart disease among vegetarians and vegans in the study, so there is no clear ‘benefit’ either way.

Researchers who conducted the study admit that they can’t prove whether the effects are because of the participant’s diets directly, or if there are other factors at play that contribute. But these numbers are statistically significant enough to be mentioned.

The Actual Data

Roughly half of those who participated in the long-term study were meat-eaters. About 16,000 called themselves either vegetarian or vegan, and about 7,500 more were “pescatarian”, which is when a person will eat fish, but no other meat products.

Of the 48,000, there were 2,820 instances of coronary heart disease and 1,072 cases of stroke, which includes 300 hemorrhagic strokes. This is when a blood vessel bursts in the brain, leading to increased cranial pressure.

The non-meat-eaters had a 22% lower risk of coronary heart disease, with the fish-only participants having a 13% lower risk.

Vegetarians and vegans were, however, 20% more likely to suffer a stroke.

But Why? And Should Vegetarians Be Concerned?

Researchers still aren’t clear on the connection, but it may be due to lower levels of vitamin B12. The main problem with finding the real reasons behind these numbers is that it is an observational study, not a cause-and-effect situation.

That means that researchers simply observed this group of people, and learned things about their life – they can’t guarantee that the diets were the reason.

The best advice the researchers of the study can give the public? They say eating a “balanced” diet that is full of a variety of foods is the real ticket to living a long and healthy life.

Meat-eaters might find that they are not eating a varied diet because their evenings consist of just meat and potatoes, while vegetarians may stick to their ‘comfort’ veggie standards instead of branching out.