Stroke commonly called as a "brain attack occurs as a result of stop in the flow of blood to the brain. This results in the death of brain cells causing loss of memory, locomotory functions, speech and paralysis depending on the functions of those cells that are affected. Statistical studies signify that about 15 million people worldwide are afflicted by stroke per year . Considering the increasing rate of stroke cases, campaigns have been carried out to bring in awareness among the people around the world
Some of the common causes of that increase the risk of stroke are hypertension, high cholesterol, trauma, psychological stress and high alcohol consumption . A nutritive diet packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, good fats and low sodium are a definitive approach in prevention of stroke. Listed below are few such nutritious naturally available foods that keep you at a lower risk of stroke.
Fruits and vegetables
A variety of plenty vegetables and fruits should be included in the daily diet, recommended: 5-7 servings per day .
Bananas are one of nutrient packed fruits. It is studied to contain essential minerals and vitamins like potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C all of which plays role in maintaining blood pressure and prevents stroke. This fruits also contain pectin form of fiber in them. Vitamin B6 functions in strengthening the nervous system, while potassium influx helps in replacing high sodium in the body cells and maintains blood pressure .
These green buttery fruits can be considered as potassium dense fruits and they contain absolutely no sodium in them, making them best choice fruits among the hypertensive individuals. Also, it contains heart-healthy fats and essential vitamins. This fruits can be incorporated in anytime of meal as it can be turned into a smoothie to drink or eaten as in salads or happily snacked on as guacamole dish .
Lentils and beans:
Lentils and beans are great choices to have in soups, salads and as small snacks. These have a low glycemic index, and high fiber, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and folic acid. Studies from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute showed a 22% reduction in heart disease eating these four times a week, which also accounts to the prevention of stroke .
Whole grains in the main course of your meal:
Cereals and whole grain breads contain soluble fiber and vitamins, recommended: 2-4 small servings of whole grain daily .
Oats are the best source of fibers and are healthy breakfast options. The fibers present in oats are studied to be soluble fiber that sweeps away the bad LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol, which there by helps to keep bad cholesterol on check which otherwise increases an individual risk of stroke [7, 8]. They also contain antioxidants, which combats cellular antioxidant stress, and Vitamin B1, which lowers plasma homocysteine responsible for increase thrombosis, impair endothelial function, and increase oxidative stress .
Snacking on nuts:
Nuts like unsalted almonds and walnuts are considered healthy snack options, recommended at about four times a week. These nuts contain healthy fats and plant sterols, which lower LDL cholesterol levels; and minerals like magnesium and potassium, which help reduce blood pressure .
The dairy diet: Low fat milk and yogurt
Making a choice of fat-free milk is a way to keep dairy product included in your diet even when hypertensive. Fat free diary products are definitively low of the fat content and are good sources of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Potassium helps regulate fluid and mineral balance and is needed for muscle contractions and transmission of nerve impulses. Researches recommend 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy foods essential as per DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)-diet plan .
A variety of fishes with high content of omega-3-fatty acids are beneficial choices to a healthy diet. Fatty fish like trout, salmon, sardines and mackerel are recommended at 2.5-ounce servings per week. These fishes contain two types of omega-3 fats namely docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which have essential roles in controlling blood pressure and heart diseases which in turn lowers the risk of stroke by as much as 27 percent [7,8].
Tea as a beverage:
Tea is popular beverage worldwide and is shown to be beneficial when consumed in the forms of black, green, and oolong, all originating from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis. Scientific evidence show that tea is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension, diabetes, and atherosclerosis, which are major risk factors of stroke. A meta-analysis of nine observational studies of 194,965 individuals reported that consumption of three or more cups of tea (green or black) per day was associated with a 21% lower risk of stroke than in those who consumed less than one cup a day .
A study on benefits of dark chocolate (containing 70% or higher of cocoa) has shown a positive association in preventing stroke. As per RDA dark chocolate nutrition includes fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, zinc, polyphenols, and flavonols. These nutrients function as antioxidants, lowers blood pressure, increases HDL, and there by protects both heart and brain from extreme attack risks .
- National Stroke Association: What is stroke
- Authority Nutrition: 7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
- National Stroke Association: Diet and Nutrition
- LiveScience: Bananas - Health Benefits, Risks & Nutrition Facts
- Everyday Health: 10 Foods High in Potassium
- Int J Prev Med: Stroke and Nutrition - A Review of Studies, Mehdi Foroughi, Mohsen Akhavanzanjani, Zahra Maghsoudi, Reza Ghiasvand, Fariborz Khorvash and Gholamreza Askari, 2013
- Super Foods leading to stroke prevention, Dr. Paulo Ribeiro
- Heart & Stroke Foundation: One simple eating plan to prevent disease
- Potassium Recommendation Fact Sheet
- Emerging Therapies - Nutrition and Stroke Prevention, Marc Fisher, Kennedy Lees, J. David Spence, 2006