According to a study titled, “Risks of Ischaemic heart disease and stroke in meat eaters, fish eaters, and vegetarians over 18 years of follow-up: results from the prospective EPIC-Oxford study”, although Vegan and Vegetarian diets might be associated with reducing the risk of heart diseases, they might also be associated with higher risk of stroke. The study revealed that those who follow vegan or vegetarian diets might more likely suffer a stroke, as compared to meat eaters. The study was published in the British Medical Journal.
The study included data from 48,188 people, who didn’t have a history of heart disease or stroke. The researchers divided the participants in three different categories- meat-eaters, fish-eaters (who consume fish but no meat), and people who followed the vegan and vegetarian diet. The participants were followed up for 18 years and during this period, 2,820 cases of ischaemic heart disease and 1,072 cases of stroke were reported.
The researchers found that fish-eaters had 13% less risk of heart disease as compared to meat eaters, while for vegans and vegetarians, this risk was 22% less. Around 20 % higher risk of stroke in vegans and vegetarians was found , as compared to meat-eaters, chiefly due to an increase in reporting of haemorrhagic stroke cases, caused by bleeding in or around the brain. Lower levels of several nutrients such as – essential vitamins were reported to be the cause of this link between high stroke risk and vegetarian diet.
“Overall, the present study has shown that UK adults who were fish eaters or vegetarians had lower risks of ischaemic heart disease than meat eaters, but that vegetarians had higher risks of stroke. Future work should include further measurements of circulating levels of cholesterol subfractions, vitamin B12, amino acids, and fatty acids in the cohort to identify which factors might mediate the observed associations”, the study concluded.