A stroke occurs when a blood clot or a ruptured blood vessel cuts off the blood supply to a person’s brain. A person may be able to reduce their risk of stroke by eating a healthy, balanced diet. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stroke is the third leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death worldwide. This article explores the types of foods to eat and avoid to reduce the risk of stroke. It also provides other tips for stroke prevention.
Foods to prevent strokes
A 2015 meta-analysis of 12 studies examining the effect of the Mediterranean diet on stroke found that people who adopt it may have a lower risk of stroke. However, further research is needed. The Mediterranean diet includes healthy food options such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish. It is recommended to seek advice from a doctor before making significant changes to your diet, especially if you are taking medication. Some foods can interact with medications.
Another meta-analysis from 2015 found that a high intake of whole grains may reduce the risk of stroke. However, the authors note that further studies are needed. The authors of a 2017 study reported that increased consumption of bran-based cold breakfast cereals and whole grains was linked to a lower risk of ischemic stroke. However, overall whole grain consumption was not associated with a reduced risk of ischemic stroke. Furthermore, the authors concluded that they needed further research.
Whole grain foods that a person may wish to try include:
whole grain bread
Many fruits contain dietary fiber and antioxidants, and they can help reduce any inflammation, prevent blood clots, and maintain cardiovascular health.
According to an older study from 2013, eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C can help reduce a person’s risk of stroke.
Here are some fruits that people may wish to try:
Many vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. A 2021 study suggests that a high fiber intake may help lower blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are risk factors for stroke.
Vegetables that a person may wish to try are:
leafy green vegetables
Research from 2017 indicated that a higher dietary protein intake may have reduced the risk of stroke Trusted Source in the general population in Japan. However, the authors suggested the need for further studies on protein intake and stroke.
Some healthy sources of protein include:
lean meats and poultry
fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines
Foods to consume in less quantity
People who want to reduce their risk of stroke can consider limiting their intake of certain foods.
foods high in cholesterol
Research from 2018 suggests that high cholesterol can increase a person’s risk of ischemic stroke, which accounts for 87% of all strokes. Having too much cholesterol in the blood can cause fatty deposits to build up in the arteries. These deposits can suddenly break off and form a blood clot that travels to the brain and causes a stroke.
Foods high in cholesterol are:
whole dairy products
processed meat, including bacon and sausages
desserts such as cakes and other baked goods.
Foods high in cholesterol are usually also high in saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol levels. Further research on how dietary cholesterol affects blood cholesterol may be needed.
Foods high in saturated fat
If a person eats too much saturated fat, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in their blood can rise. High levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood increase the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Saturated fats occur naturally, especially in animal products. Foods containing saturated fat are:
certain fried foods
Foods high in trans fats
Trans fats are naturally present in some animal products. Manufacturers may add artificial trans fats to certain foods by using hydrogenated oil. Eating foods high in trans fats may raise LDL cholesterol levels while lowering high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol helps remove other types of cholesterol from the body, which is why some people call it the “good” cholesterol.
Foods high in trans fats include:
fried foods, such as doughnuts
spreads, including margarine
baked goods, such as cakes, frozen pizzas and cookies.
Other stroke prevention tips
You can help prevent a stroke by making lifestyle changes, including:
maintain a healthy weight
limit alcohol consumption
follow the doctor’s recommended treatment plan for any underlying health condition.
A number of foods can help reduce the risk of stroke. People may decide to eat more fruits, vegetables, and lean meats while limiting foods high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat. Also, lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding smoking and maintaining a healthy weight, can be helpful. It is recommended that you consult a healthcare professional before making any significant diet and lifestyle changes for further guidance. This is especially important for people taking medication or suffering from medical conditions.