A recent study on vegetarian, pescatarian and vegan diets has shown both the benefits (like lowered risk of heart disease) and risks (like chances of having stroke) that are associated with them. While the reasons for having a stroke aren’t exactly clear, it’s possible that low levels of certain vitamins might be one of the causes. Today, plant-based diets have become extremely popular, especially among people showing concern about their health and the environment in general.
A lot of researches in the past have shown that adopting a plant-based diet has resulted in decreased inflammation, reduced chances of developing cancer and heart disease. A diet low on meat can also help in preventing chronic inflammation.
But, people who go vegan also need to be cautious about getting vital nutrients like vitamin B12, choline, omega-3 fatty acids among others, since these are prominently found in eggs, fish and dairy. They might need fortified products and supplements since they are off animal products.
A study published in the British Medical Journal examined the benefits and risks of eating vegetarian, pescatarian and vegan diets. It combined the data of 16,000 vegans, 24,000 pescetarians , and 7,500 vegetarians. Vegan diets are exclusive of all animal products, while pescatarian diets are like vegetarian diets, but include seafood. Also, vegetarian diets can include eggs and dairy.
According to Slashgear, compared to non-vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians and vegetarians had lower chances of developing heart disease. In the case of coronary heart disease (CHD), vegetarians showed 22 per cent lower risk, while pescetarians showed a 13 per cent lower risk of developing the condition.
While vegetarians and vegans are at a considerably low risk of developing heart disease, the same isn’t the case when it comes to stroke risks. In fact, compared to meat-eaters, they had a 20 per cent greater risk of having a stroke. According to the study, the increased chances of strokes can be associated with lower levels of vitamin B12 and circulating cholesterol. However, the study focused on people from UK. In most of the low-income countries, it remains to seen if the results are applicable, since most of the people follow a vegetarian diet.
On a whole, going for a plant-based diet has numerous health benefits, but some amount of meat can also be beneficial. Like the study showed, pescatarians didn’t face major stroke risks compared to vegetarians and vegans.