Nutrition for Stroke
Your food choices are important to controlling your risk factors for stroke including blood pressure and maintaining a healthy weight. A low sodium diet (1500-2000 mg of sodium per day) combined with nutrient rich foods can help control your blood pressure. If you are not at a healthy weight, talk to your doctor about what would be a healthy weight for you. Being at a healthy weight can improve your blood pressure and lower your risk for stroke.
- Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat dairy foods in your every-day food choices. These foods contain nutrients to help maintain or achieve a healthy weight and blood pressure and helps to limit added sugar.
- Do not use added salt on foods or in cooking. If you do use salt in cooking, use very little.
- Read the nutrition facts label on packaged foods and check the portion size. Foods containing 300 mg of sodium or more may not fit into a low sodium eating plan. This is also important for choosing soft drinks, seltzer, sparkling water, and electrolyte replacement drinks contain sodium.
- Look for low sodium canned and frozen foods. Canned vegetables can be drained and rinsed with cold water to remove sodium. Do not choose frozen foods with sauces, most are higher in sodium and fat.
- Food prepared at restaurants or fast food can be high in sodium. Look for low sodium options ahead of time. Many restaurant chains have menus with nutrition information available at the restaurant or on their website. You can also ask if your food can be prepared without salt.
- Keep total fat intake to between 25-35% of the calories you eat daily. For someone on a 2000 calorie diet, this would be approximately 500-700 calories. Your needs may be different, schedule a visit with a registered dietitian for your exact needs.
- Limit saturated fat food choices. Saturated fats are mostly from animal sources – meats and dairy foods. But there are some non-animal tropical fats that are saturated as well: coconut, palm, and palm kernel. These fats can be found in nut butters, popcorn and packaged baked goods.
- Try to choose more foods that contain unsaturated fats. Some examples are olive, canola, soybean, sunflower, and safflower oils. Look for vegetables oil spreads such as those made with canola oil or olive oil in place of butter. Include flaxseed oil, ground flaxseed or walnuts in your recipes to add heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet.
- Low fat or fat free dairy foods are healthy and decrease saturated fat intake. Some examples are fat free milk, non-fat yogurt, nonfat low sodium cottage cheese and either fat-free or lower-fat and low-sodium cheese. Including these foods will help you meet calcium and potassium needs.
- Try to eat leaner meats such as poultry without skin, lean cuts of beef and pork, salmon, fresh tuna or mackerel, venison, and other wild game meats. Vary your diet by substituting dried beans and peas and egg whites or egg substitutes for meat.
- Try to eat 20-30 grams of fiber per day by including 2 cups of fruits, 3 cups of vegetables and 3 ounces of whole grains daily.
- Increase fiber in your diet slowly and be sure to include more water or other fluids to avoid gastrointestinal symptoms.
- If you drink alcohol, control how much you consume: one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men. A serving of alcohol is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
Contact your doctor before making any diet changes as related to your medical condition(s).