A diet rich in flavonoids, antioxidants, and healthy fats may reduce your risk of stroke.
Including a variety of healthy foods in your diet can help reduce the risk of stroke. Here are five foods known to be beneficial for preventing stroke:
1. Leafy greens
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens are rich in dietary nitrates and other nutrients that can help reduce the risk of stroke.
When you eat leafy greens, your body converts the nitrates into nitric oxide, a molecule that plays an important role in regulating blood flow and blood pressure.
Walnuts are a good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid shown to reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, and lower blood pressure, all of which can reduce the risk of stroke.
Research from 2021 observing more than 93,000 people for up to 20 years found that those who ate more walnuts had a lower risk of dying from any cause, especially from heart disease, and they tended to live longer than those who didn’t eat walnuts.
3. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, and potassium. They also contain flavonoids, which are plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect against stroke.
4. Fatty and lean fish
Fatty fish such as salmon, fresh tuna, and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce the risk of stroke by improving blood flow and reducing inflammation.
Lean fish, such as snapper, mahi-mahi, and cod, have lower levels of omega-3s, but they may have other nutrients that are helpful for preventing stroke.
For instance, lean fish contain higher amounts of protein, iodine, and selenium, as well as fewer calories, which can be beneficial to human health.
Stroke is linked to diet in several ways. A diet high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium can contribute to the development of risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity, which can increase the likelihood of having a stroke.
In contrast, consuming a diet high in foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and protective plant compounds can help reduce these risk factors and promote overall cardiovascular health, which can lower the chance of stroke.
Several foods can increase the risk of stroke when consumed in excess. These
- Processed meats: Consuming large amounts of processed meats, such as hot dogs and chicken nuggets,
has been linkedto an increased risk of stroke.
- Sugary drinks and foods: Consuming sugary drinks, such as soda and sports drinks, as well as foods high in added sugars, such as desserts, candy, and snack foods,
can contributeto the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, all of which increase the risk of stroke.
- High sodium foods: Consuming foods high in sodium, such as fast food and processed snacks,
can contributeto the development of high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke.
- Trans fats: Consuming foods that are high in trans fats, such as fried foods, baked goods, and packaged snacks,
can increasethe risk of stroke by contributing to the development of high cholesterol and inflammation.
- Alcohol: Drinking alcohol in excess can increase the risk of stroke by contributing to high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythm.
In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, there are several other ways to reduce the risk of stroke:
- getting regular physical activity
- quitting smoking
- maintaining a moderate weight
- managing stress
- managing health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
Stroke is one of the top causes of death in the United States. Eating a nutritious diet rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, and healthy fats can reduce the risk of stroke.
Focusing on nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, and limiting or avoiding processed and high sugar foods, can help you manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other stroke risk factors.