"The amount of protein that led to the reduced risk was moderate-equal to 20 grams per day," study author Xinfeng Liu, MD, PhD, of Nanjing University School of Medicine in Nanjing, China said.
"Additional, larger studies are needed before definitive recommendations can be made, but the evidence is compelling," Liu said.
The meta-analysis looked at all of the available research on the relationship between protein in the diet and the 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 said.
The findings are published online in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.