Science Says Regularly Eating Plant-Based Meals Can Lower Your Risk of Stroke by 10 Percent

vegan sweet potato chili
vegan sweet potato chili

Bryan Gardner

Whether you crave grilled vegetables or a fresh fruit salad, your plant-based eating habits are likely helping your overall health far more than you may realize. According to the Daily Mail, Harvard Medical School researchers studied participants' diets over the course of 25 years and found that those who had vegan, plant-based diets lessened their stroke risks by 10 percent. They published their findings in Neurology, which also noted that having about 12 servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (while cutting down their consumption of refined grains and added sugars) each day also boosts health.

"Many studies already show that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of all kinds of diseases, from heart disease to diabetes," said Megu Baden, study author from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "We wanted to find out if there is an association between this kind of healthy diet and stroke risk."

Related: Eating More Fruits and Vegetables Could Benefit Your Mental Health

Scientists examined 209,508 people as part of their study. And every two to four years, the test subjects filled out a questionnaire that went over how often they consumed over 110 different foods from the year prior. The team then divided their participants into five groups based on their intake of plant-based meals. People who had about 12 servings of healthy plant-based foods—including leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, beans, and vegetable oils per day—were put together. On the opposite end of the spectrum, participants with the lowest plant-based diets (which included a little over seven servings) were in their own group.

After digging into their research, the participants with the best plant intake had a 10 percent less chance of having a stroke than those with the lowest plant-based diets. And even more specifically, the healthiest participants also had an eight percent lower risk of experiencing an ischemic stroke than people with the smallest amounts of meals with plants in their daily lives. "Our findings have important public health implications as future nutrition policies to lower stroke risk should take the quality of food into consideration," Baden said.