Plant-based diets are best … or are they?
This study is also a reminder that the health impact of a particular intervention (such as diet) may not be easy to predict or explain. In most cases, the risk of stroke and heart disease tend to rise or fall together, but that wasn’t the case in this research. Beware the study’s limitations This study linking a vegetarian diet with a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke has a number of important limitations that should temper the concerns of vegetarians. The study was observational. That means it simply observed what happened among different people who followed different diets over time, without being able to account for every other relevant factor. For example, if vegetarians chose plant-based diets because of a family history of stroke, it could be their genes driving the higher rates of stroke, not the diet. The findings might have been different if the study had included a different study population, such as one with different genetic backgrounds or higher rates of obesity. The data regarding diet was self-reported. While the use of dietary surveys is common and necessary in research that requires a large number of study subjects, it isn’t always reliable. The study was not large enough to reliably sort out differences in the rates of disease between vegans and vegetarians. As a result, it’s not clear whether the increased stroke risk applies to all vegetarians, or whether vegans might have a different risk. We don’t know whether the health ou...
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