if you're eating a diet that is high in protein you may be reducing your risk of stroke in the process. A new study out of China finds diets higher in protein, especially from fish, may cut your stroke risk by as much as 20 percent.

"The biggest effect was for bleeds in the head, intracranial hemorrhage type of strokes, rather than ischemic strokes, but there was an effect for both," explained Cleveland Clinic Neurologist Dr. Jennifer Frontera, who did not take part in the study.

Nanjing University school researchers analyzed seven studies involving more than 250,000 people. They found that overall, the participants with the highest amount of protein in their diets were 20% less likely to develop a stroke than those with the lowest amount.

"We think that the way it works is not just by improving your cholesterol profiles, which is just one component because you get omega-3 fatty acids from fish, for example, but also because it may lower your blood pressure and blood pressure is a major risk factor for all kinds of strokes," said Frontera.

Researchers say the amount of protein that led to the reduced risk was equal to 20 grams per day and for every additional 20 grams per day of protein a person ate, their risk of stroke dropped 26 percent. They also add that the results indicate replacing red meat with other protein sources could reduce stroke risk.

Frontera says maintaining a healthy diet is important for reducing your risk for heart attack, stroke and other types of vascular diseases.

"Consuming more protein might be another beneficial component to think about, particularly, fish proteins and other animal proteins, other than red meats," Frontera explained.

Complete findings for the study "Protein Diet and Stroke" can be found in the online issue of the journal Neurology.