Consuming higher amounts of healthy plant-based foods and lower amounts of less healthy plant-based foods may reduce the risk of stroke, according to a new study.
The study indicated that healthy plant-based diets — defined as rich in foods such as leafy greens, whole grains, and beans, and including lower levels of foods like refined grains, potatoes and added sugars — may lower overall stroke risk by up to 10 per cent.
“Our findings have important public health implications, suggesting that future nutrition policies to lower stroke risk should take the quality of food into consideration,” said first author Megu Baden from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
For the study, published in the journal Neurology, the team analyzed health data from 209,508 men and women, who did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer at the start of their participation.
They were followed for more than 25 years and completed diet questionnaires every two to four years.
Participants were scored on diet quality based on the healthfulness of the plant-based foods that they ate.
The researchers found that a healthy plant-based diet — in addition to being linked with 10 per cent lower overall stroke risk — was associated with a modest reduction in risk of ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked.
There was no association found between a healthy plant-based diet and reduced risk of haemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when an artery in the brain leaks blood or ruptures, the team said.