Protein has the effect of lowering blood pressure which may play a role in reducing stroke risk."The amount of protein that led to the reduced risk was moderate, equal to 20 grams per day," said study author Xinfeng Liu from Nanjing University School of Medicine in Nanjing, China.

The meta-analysis looked at all of the available research on the relationship between protein in the diet and risk of stroke. Seven studies with a total of 254,489 participants who were followed for an average of 14 years were included in the analysis.

Overall, the participants with the highest amount of protein in their diets were 20 percent less likely to develop a stroke than those with the lowest amount of protein in their diets.

The results accounted for other factors that could affect the risk of stroke, such as smoking and high cholesterol. For every additional 20 grams per day of protein that people ate their risk of stroke decreased by 26 percent.

"If everyone's protein intake were at this level, that would translate to more than 1.4 million fewer deaths from stroke each year worldwide, plus a decreased level of disability from stroke," Liu maintained.

Liu noted that the analysis does not support increased consumption of red meat, which has been associated with increased stroke risk. The reduced risk of stroke was stronger for animal protein than vegetable protein, said the study published online in the journal Neurology.


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