Diet Plan For Stroke Patients


Diet plan for stroke patients is a very important factor in maintaining good health and also helps prevent strokes. Doctors have identified that stroke patients can follow a few guidelines to reduce the chances of having another stroke. These are simple guidelines that anyone at risk of suffering from a stroke can follow.

A stroke happens when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted for a few minutes or more. It is often caused by a clot that blocks an artery, but it could also be triggered by bursting of an artery. This article will help you develop a diet plan for stroke patients.

How to Eat After You’ve Had a Stroke

Changing your diet for the better can help you heal and prevent stroke and heart disease in the future.

plate of vegetables legumes grains leafy greens
Eating a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of having another stroke.Dougal Waters/Getty Images

In the wake of a stroke, many things about your life may be different, including your diet. Changing the way you eat can help reduce your risk of having another stroke. A healthy diet will also ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to support neurological and physical healing.

“In almost any circumstance it’s good to reevaluate what you’re eating and your lifestyle after having a stroke,” says Jordan Chen, RD, a cardiovascular dietitian at Heart and Vascular Clinics (HAVC) in Manhattan, Kansas. Chen notes that a person’s diet and exercise habits are among the main factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke, and that looking out for overall heart health is an important factor in reducing your risk for stroke.

“We can fix a stent in an artery, but it’s a temporary measure that needs to be coupled with lifestyle changes to prevent recurrence of not only stroke but heart disease,” says Andrew M. Freeman, MD, director of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver and cochair of the American College of Cardiology’s Nutrition and Lifestyle Group, who notes that heart disease and stroke are closely linked.

Both Chen and Dr. Freeman recommend that people follow the basic rules of the Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) ways of eating to ensure the best overall health and to reduce their risk of having another stroke. The DASH diet was specifically designed to reduce high blood pressure, the single biggest risk factor for having a stroke, according to the American Stroke Association (ASA). Both diets include large amounts of fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, beans, legumes, fish and poultry in moderation, and very few servings of processed foods, dairy, red meat, and sweets. The American Heart Association (AHA) recognizes that both the Mediterranean and DASH ways of eating can have a big impact on a person’s risk of stroke.

“The biggest things to cut back on are sugar, salt, highly processed foods, saturated and trans fats, and fried foods, as well as snacky-type foods,” says Chen, referring to packaged snack foods, including pretzels and chips.

Here are some tips for what to eat and what to avoid to help you recover from a stroke.

Eat Whole, Mostly Plant-Based Foods and Lots of Veggies

Whole foods are those that are in as close to their natural state as possible once they reach your plate. Fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, rice, and fish are all good examples of whole foods, says Freeman, who adds that when choosing vegetables, opt for more leafy greens, asparagus, peppers, onions, carrots, brussels sprouts, and other non-starchy vegetables over potatoes and corn. He also says to be careful of what kinds of toppings you put on vegetables.

“If you are going to eat salads and cover them in bacon and blue cheese, that negates their health benefits,” says Feeman. Instead, try adding vinegars to salads, including balsamic, and consider adding nuts or seeds to keep a meal of leafy greens healthy.

Avoid Processed Foods, Salt, and Sugar

Processed foods are the opposite of whole foods. These foods typically come prepackaged and include options like cereal, crackers, certain breads, chips, and processed meats like luncheon meat and bacon.

Processed foods typically contain a lot of sugar and salt, which may contribute to plaque buildup that can cause an ischemic stroke, says Chen. She recommends rarely eating sugary foods such as desserts and pastries, and replacing sugary beverages with water — drinks that include added sugar are the single largest source of sugar in the American diet, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of all American adults drink at least one sugary beverage on any given day.

One study of California teachers, published in May 2020 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that women who consumed one or more sugary beverages — which included soda, energy or sports drinks, and fruit juice with added sugar — were 20 percent more likely to have a stroke than women who rarely drank sugary beverages. Excess sugar causes weight gain and type 2 diabetes, both risk factors for stroke. In fact, people who have diabetes are 1.5 times more likely to have a stroke than people who do not, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Another risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure, and salt is directly related to high blood pressure, according to the AHA. The AHA recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day, and that can add up quickly, especially if you eat a lot of prepackaged foods or processed meats. Opting for whole foods over processed foods and seasoning meals with herbs, spices, or citrus instead of salt, is a good way to cut back on sodium intake.

Chen says not to be fooled by breads and crackers that are labeled “whole wheat,” which, she says, can be mistaken for healthy options but in reality often contain additives, salt, and sugar.

Eat More Legumes

Legumes —  a class of vegetables that includes beans, lentils, and peas — are a hallmark of both the DASH and Mediterranean diets. Both are excellent sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals and are low in fat, Freeman explains, adding that “Americans eat almost no legumes, but they are associated with all sorts of positive health benefits.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, legumes are typically low in fat and high in folate, potassium, iron, and magnesium. They are also cholesterol-free and high in fiber. Try making meatless burgers out of black beans or chickpeas, or incorporating legumes into soups and stews. 

Eat Fish and Poultry Instead of Red Meat

Studies show that eating either a plant-based diet or a diet that includes fish but no meat reduces a person’s risk for heart disease and stroke. In one study, published in September 2019 in the British Medical Journal, researchers evaluated nearly 50,000 people in the U.K. The team studied how people’s diets impacted their risk for ischaemic heart disease, a factor that can cause stroke and heart attack. They found that people who were vegetarians and those who ate fish but no meat were 13 percent less likely to have ischaemic heart disease than meat eaters.

Fish contains so-called healthy fats — unsaturated fats that include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, both recognized as heart-healthy. “It’s okay to have some lean meat,” says Chen. “If you do, try to eat small amounts of fish and chicken, but it’s better to have most of your plate be vegetables.”

Avoid Saturated Fat and Snack on Seeds and Nuts

According to Freeman, a healthy diet should avoid saturated fats and limited amounts of fat in general: “When they do come into the diet, fats should be included in small amounts of nuts, olive oil, and canola if need be,” says Freeman, who recommends getting calcium from kale, spinach, and broccoli instead of full-fat dairy products, which also contain a lot of saturated fat.

Saturated fat raises cholesterol, which raises a person’s risk of stroke, he explains. The U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends getting no more than 10 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat. Based on a standard 2,000-calorie diet, this is equal to 16 to 20 grams (g) of saturated fat. For reference, a single slice of bacon contains roughly 9 g of saturated fat, so just two strips of bacon could push you over your healthy daily limit.

Coconut oil, palm oil, red meat, and dairy are also all high in saturated fat, says Chen. “Eating monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds will be much better for your heart,” she says.

What to Do if You’re Having Difficulty Eating After Stroke

Chen also notes that some people may have difficulties chewing or swallowing after a stroke. In these cases, Chen says to work with your doctor, speech pathologists, and dietitians to develop the right consistencies of foods for you so you don’t become malnourished. Malnutrition in stroke survivors varies but is thought to be around 20 percent, according to a study published in December 2018 in the journal Neurocritical Care. Smoothies that are rich in vegetables and low-sugar fruit may be a good option in some cases, she says. Chen also recommends roasting or steaming vegetables to make them softer and easier to chew, and stewing meat for the same reason.

Healthy eating after stroke

Fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants, which can help reduce damage to blood vessels. They also contain potassium which can help control blood pressure.

The fibre in fruit vegetables can lower cholesterol. Folate – which is found in green leafy vegetables – may reduce the risk of stroke. Wholegrains and cereals also contain fibre and folate.

Dairy foods are another source of potassium, along with calcium, which can also help control blood pressure. Alternatives to dairy include calcium-enriched soy or rice milks. Other sources of calcium include fish with bones, almonds and tofu.

Things to limit after stroke are:

  • Salt. Too much salt can raise your blood pressure. Read labels and choose lower salt options. Don’t add salt when cooking or at the table. Use herbs and spices to increase flavour instead. If you reduce your intake gradually, your taste buds will adjust in a few weeks.
  • Sugar. Too much sugar can damage blood vessels. Read labels and choose lower sugar options. Even foods you may not think of as sugary can have added sugar.
  • Saturated fats. These cause high cholesterol. Eat mostly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oils and spreads. Try nut butters or avocado.
  • Alcohol. Drinking alcohol increases your risk of having another stroke. Your doctor can give you advice on alcohol.

Top 7 Foods Senior Stroke Survivors Should Eat

Foods Aging Adults Stroke Survivors Should Eat in Amarillo, TX

The foods seniors eat play a vital role in the stroke recovery process, as they can affect blood pressure, body weight, and stress levels. As a family caregiver, you need to develop a proper diet plan for your aging loved one based on the doctor’s recommendations. Below are some healthy food choices for senior stroke survivors and the benefits of each item.

1. Turkey

Many senior stroke survivors experience breathing problems that can interrupt sleep during the night. However, turkey is a healthy food choice that enhances sleep and overall wellbeing. Turkey is lean meat that contains tryptophan, an amino acid that can increase the production of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin, which prevents fatigue and leads to adequate sleep.

If your loved one needs help planning and preparing healthy meals, a professional caregiver can be a great source of support. In Amarillo, senior home care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

2. Beans

Strokes can cause weakened muscles and make it challenging for seniors to control their bladders. Unconscious leaking is the most common bladder problem and is often treated with therapies and healthy eating habits, such as bean consumption. Black beans and kidney beans are good sources of fiber, and they can absorb most of the water from foods your loved one eats, which helps with managing bladder problems.

3. Yogurt

Swallowing and chewing foods may be challenging for your loved one in the early stages of stroke recovery. Therefore, you need to find foods that are easy to eat, such as yogurt. This dairy product is a good source of protein and can keep seniors full. Yogurt also contains abundant amounts of vitamins, calcium, and zinc that can boost heart health and reduce the risk of a recurrent stroke.

4. Oatmeal

Whole grains such as oatmeal deliver soluble fiber to seniors and reduce the risk of recurrent strokes. Oatmeal is a brain-boosting whole grain that can also enhance cognition in seniors and restore many of the abilities they lost due to their strokes. To add more variety to your loved one’s oatmeal, use fresh fruits such as strawberries and blueberries.

Recovering from a stroke, managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other health-related situations can make it difficult for a senior to continue living at home without someone there to help. Amarillo, TX, live-in care professionals are trained to help seniors who need 24/7 assistance. With the help of a live-in caregiver, your elderly loved one can maintain a higher quality of life while aging in place.

5. Tuna

Biochemical changes in the brain are one of the leading causes of depression, and some of the symptoms include restlessness, decreased energy, sadness, and difficulty concentrating. Healthy eating can treat depression naturally and boost mental and emotional health. Tuna is a fatty fish that can increase the positive endorphins throughout the body and enhance mood. The amino acids in tuna can clear the mind and boost energy levels.

6. Spinach

This leafy green vegetable contains nutrients that boost cognition and lower blood pressure levels. Eating at least one daily serving of vegetables such as spinach provides folate and vitamins K, E, and B, which can increase mental focus and sharpen memory.

7. Apples

Apples are abundant in the soluble fiber known as pectin, which can lower cholesterol levels. Eating low-cholesterol foods is critical during stroke recovery because it could prevent plaque buildup and increase circulation. When blood and oxygen flow freely throughout the body and to the brain, your loved one’s stroke recovery odds could increase.

Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted elderly home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (806) 803-9991 to learn more about our high-quality home care services.

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