Healthy eating can reduce your risk of stroke or having another stroke by reducing risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, being overweight and diabetes.
The following information should be used as a guide only and may not be appropriate if you are underweight or have swallowing problems. Ask a Dietitian for an eating plan to suit you.
Have plenty of:
Fruit and vegetables
You should aim to eat about five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit every day. Fruit and vegetables reduce your risk of stroke as they contain antioxidants which can help reduce damage to blood vessels potassium which can help control blood pressure fibre which can lower cholesterol folate (eg in green leafy f olate vegetables) which may reduce the risk of stroke.
Wholegrain breads and cereals
These include wholemeal or wholegrain breads, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, and breakfast cereals such as porridge. Wholegrain breads and cereals contain fibre, folate and other vitamins and may reduce the risk of stroke.
Aim to drink 8 -10 cups of fl uid per day unless you are on a fl uid restriction. Water is the best choice. Getting the right amount of fluid is particularly important if you have a swallowing problem and are only drinking thickened fluids.
Eat in moderation:
Meat, chicken, fish
Red meat and chicken can be included as part of a healthy diet. Be sure to choose lean cuts of meat, watch your portion size, trim off any visible fat and take the skin off chicken. Fish has been associated with lowering the risk of certain types of stroke. Try to include some fish at least two to three times a week.
Low fat dairy
The calcium and potassium in low fat varieties of dairy foods can help control blood pressure and may contribute to lowering the risk of stroke. Choose low fat dairy foods including milk, yoghurt, cheese and custard.
Eat in small amounts:
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are found in nuts, seeds, avocadoes and vegetable oils such as canola, olive and sunfl ower oils as well as spreads containing these.
Limit Unhealthy fats
These include saturated and trans fats. These can be found in butter, lard, fatty meats, fullcream dairy products, pastries, chips and some other snack foods (including fatty takeaway food). Saturated and trans fats can raise cholesterol and increase the risk of stroke.
Too much salt in your diet may raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of stroke. Choose no added salt or reduced salt products. Limit foods like salty snacks, foods in brine, processed meats and convenience meals and sauces which are high in salt. Limit salt added to your meals.
The NHMRC Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults 2003 recommend limiting alcohol consumption to a daily level of two standard drinks for men and one standard drink for women.
Everyone should have at least one or two alcohol free days every week. A standard drink is a pot or middie of beer, a schooner/stubby/can of mid strength beer, 100mls of wine or a nip of spirits. It is a good idea to discuss your alcohol intake with your doctor as alcohol may interact with some of your medications or make it harder to control blood pressure.
For expert nutrition and dietary advice contact an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) by visiting www.daa.asn.au or call 1800 812 942
Note: This fact sheet is number 7 in a series. For a complete list of fact sheets, click here.