Eating well after a stroke is key to recovery. Choosing healthy foods can help control blood pressure, body weight, reduce a person's risk of having another stroke, and may help with the demands of stroke therapy and other daily activities.
Preventing another stroke and staying healthy can be achieved when you take appropriate steps to control your weight and blood pressure. Making healthy food choices is a major step in the right direction, and you can enhance the impact diet plays in your risk by meeting with a registered dietician. A dietician can teach you how to prepare and plan meals and snacks to enhance your health.
No two people have the same results therefore, incorporate these healthy eating strategies with frequent check-ups with your physician and proper administration of prescribed medications.
Foods to eat for a healthy recovery post stroke
Strategies to reduce your risk of a stroke
- Grains: Make sure at least half of your choices from this group come from whole grains.
- Vegetables: Choose often nutrient-rich dark green and orange vegetables and remember to regularly eat dried beans and peas.
- Fruits: Eat a variety of fresh, frozen or dried fruits each day.
- Dairy: Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods or a variety of non-dairy calcium-rich foods each day.
- Protein: Choose low-fat or lean meats, poultry and remember to vary your choices with more beans, peas, nuts, seeds and fish sources. In terms of fats, make most of your fat sources from fish, nuts and vegetable oils. Limit fat sources from butter, stick margarine, shortening or lard.
- Eat a variety of foods each day
Because no single food can provide our bodies with all of the nutrients we need for good health, choose a variety of foods each day. Incorporating a variety of foods
is a great way to get started.
- Eat a rainbow of colourful foods at each meal
In order to reap the health-protective nutrients found in fruits and vegetables
, its important to choose a variety of colourful foods at each meal. Go for a rainbow approach by choosing an array of fruits, vegetables and legumes - dark reds, oranges, vibrant yellows, deep greens, blues and purples. By choosing a rainbow of colour you'll be sure to take in a wide range of nutrients.
- Choose 5 or more cups of fruits and vegetables each day
Research shows that the best way to reap the benefits of a healthy diet
is to bump up your fruits and vegetables. So, in addition to steps 1 and 2, make sure you eat a minimum of 5 servings each day.
Reading food labels is a great way to learn more about the foods you are eating. By law, most foods must have nutritional information listed in a standard way. When selecting foods for reducing your risk of stroke, focus on the following information on the food label for each serving:
- Total fat
- Saturated fat
- Dietary fibre
- Limit your intake of saturated and Trans fat and cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance made by your body and found in foods of animal origin. Your body needs cholesterol to maintain the health
of your body's cells. However, too much cholesterol in your blood can increase your risk of stroke and heart disease
. High levels of blood cholesterol are the result of two factors: how much cholesterol your body makes, and how much fat and cholesterol are in the food you eat. Diets high in saturated fats are linked to high cholesterol
and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature and are found in animal products like meat, cheese, egg yolks, butter, and ice cream, and some vegetable oils (palm, palm kernel and coconut). Limiting the amount of saturated fat you eat from these foods is key to stroke prevention.
- Trim the sodium in your diet
Eating too much sodium may cause you to retain fluids and increase your blood pressure
. Not adding salt to foods at the table is one way to cut down on your sodium, but it isn't enough.
- Choose foods high in fibre
As part of a heart-healthy diet
, fibre can reduce cholesterol and your overall risk for cardiovascular disease
. Dietary fibre is the part of plants the body cannot digest. As it passes through your body it affects the way your body digests foods and absorbs nutrients. How much fibre you eat affects not only your cholesterol level and risk for stroke, but may have other health benefits. It helps control blood sugar, promotes regularity, prevents gastrointestinal disease and helps in weight management.
- Maintain or achieve a healthy body weight
Another important strategy to reducing your risk of a stroke
is to achieve a healthy body weight. Watching your portion sizes, eating foods high in fibre and low in fat, avoiding fad diets, increasing your activity, and keeping track of your eating habits are all ways to achieve a healthy body weight. Keep in mind weight loss does not happen overnight, so establish realistic short and long-term goals from the start.
- Reduce intake of added sugar
Excess intake of added sugar is associated with hypertension
, type 2 diabetes
, and dyslipidemia, which are all risk factors for stroke. Examples of added sugar are white sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, jelly, jam, and sweetened drinks. Keep in mind that sweets and desserts contain added sugar.
Adequate dietary potassium intake is necessary in order to maintain proper heart function. However, most adults do not consume enough potassium
. Potassium is abundant in fruit, vegetables, and milk products. Therefore, if you consume recommended amounts of these food groups, you should achieve adequate intake.