Several studies confirm that 80% of strokes can be prevented with healthy lifestyle choices, including healthy eating habits. Since stroke prevention is a long-term process, a dietitian may recommend adjustments to keep the diet vegetables, lentils, beans, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and nuts centric. Few medical conditions such as uncontrolled blood pressure, Diabetes and certain heart diseases that makes a person more prone to stroke, can be avoided through improving diet.
Whole Grain (high Fiber food to control cholesterol), Fruits and Vegetable (rich in antioxidants), Low-fat Dairy products (contains potassium and calcium which helps regulate blood pressure), Fish (contains Omega 3 fatty acid which helps with inflammation) and Lean Protein (helps control cholesterol) are mostly recommended for stroke prevention. Salt or sodium, sugar and processed food are suggested to be minimized.
Items to include
- Plant foods: Plant foods protect against stroke due to their fiber element. Every 7 grams of fiber consumption per day gets nearly a 7% drop in the risk of first-time stroke. Plant foods are also rich in antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, improve blood flow and prevent plaque build-up in the arteries. One is advised to explore a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices at every meal to continuously flood the body with a wide range of antioxidants.
- Nuts: Research confirm that adding an ounce of nuts per day cut the risk of stroke in half.
- Citrus fruits: Citrus intake has been associated with lower stroke risk.
- Whole grains: Eating whole grains has been found to be associated with a reduced risk of stroke. Experts recommend at least 3 servings of whole grains each day for stroke prevention.
- Potassium-rich foods: Eating more potassium-rich foods is associated with a 21% lower stroke risk.
- Magnesium-rich foods: According to a meta-analysis of studies, higher magnesium intake is associated with a reduced risk of stroke.
- Tomatoes: High levels of lycopene found in tomatoes is associated with a significantly reduced risk of stroke.
- Garlic: Garlic is a great choice for reducing stroke risk as a study found that regular garlic consumption results in a 50% reduction in rates of stroke.
- Coffee: Those who drank at least one cup of coffee a day have a 20% reduced risk of stroke.
- Chocolate: Studies show that people who eat chocolate (with high cacao content) appear to have lower rate of stroke. However, a dietitian’s discretion is needed for moderate consumption.
Items to avoid
- Excessive salty foods: People who eat a lot of salt may contribute to an increased risk for stroke. Expert recommend less than 2,300 milligrams slat consumption a day for most people. Salt consumption of 1,500 milligrams a day is recommended for people over 50 or those who have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
- Smoked and processed meats: Pastrami, Sausage, Hot Dogs, Bacon and Smoked Turkey Sandwich are contributors to stroke risk due to the preservatives (Sodium nitrate and nitrite) used to keep them intact that directly damage blood vessels, causing arteries to harden and narrow.
- Fizzy drinks: People who drink one diet soda once a day may increase their risk of having a stroke by 48%.
- Red meat: A meta-analysis found a 10% increased risk of stroke associated with each three-and-a-half-ounce daily portion of red and processed meat.