Did you know that every 40 seconds someone has a stroke? In addition to being the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, strokes are a major cause of adult disability. In honor of Stroke Month this May, do yourself a favor and learn about the factors that can increase your risk of having a stroke and how a healthy diet can help prevent strokes from affecting you or your loved ones!
Stroke Risk Factors
According to the CDC, 49 percent of Americans that have a stroke have at least one of the following risk factors:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to help prevent a stroke. Find a smoking cessation program or another solution that can help you quit as soon as possible.
High cholesterol and high blood pressure are the other two leading risk factors for stroke. A healthy diet can help lower both blood pressure and cholesterol, lessening your chance of stroke.
Lower Your Blood Pressure to Prevent Stroke
We’ve always been told to eat our fruits and veggies, but now we have one more reason to do just that! Research shows eating more fruits and vegetables may help lower your risk of stroke by helping to decrease high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. In addition to fruits and vegetables, an overall healthy diet is one of the best ways to keep your blood pressure in check to help prevent a stroke from occurring. Here are several of the best foods to help you lower your blood pressure!
Plain Nonfat Yogurt
While high-fat dairy products are not heart healthy, non-fat yogurt is! In addition to being heart-healthy, non-fat Greek yogurt has additional benefits because of its high levels of fiber.
According to the American Heart Association, women who consume foods higher in potassium are less likely to have a stroke than those who consume less potassium-rich foods. Bananas are just one great example of a food packed with potassium.
High in both fiber and potassium, a sweet potato is a great way to help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke! With their versatility, sweet potatoes can easily be incorporated into just about any meal!
Brussels sprouts are yet another food that can help to lower your risk of stroke by lowering your blood pressure. One cup of Brussels sprouts contains roughly 350 milligrams of potassium! As an alternative to boiling, cook your Brussels sprouts in an oven, stove-top or grill until they are slightly browned.
Lower Your Cholesterol to Prevent Stroke
While a small amount of cholesterol is a substance that our bodies need, too much cholesterol in the blood causes build up on the walls of arteries, which is a cause for alarm. High cholesterol puts pressure on the arteries, leaving individuals at risk for heart disease and stroke. Here are five foods to help lower your cholesterol and risk of stroke.
Beans are high in cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. Whether it’s kidney, pinto or black beans, eating a cup each day will help to lower your cholesterol over time. Don’t forget to rinse the high-sodium based liquid off before consuming if you’re using canned beans!
Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids help to raise “good” HDL cholesterol while lowering the “bad” LDL cholesterol. Salmon, sardines and mackerel are three types of fish with high levels of omega-3 to incorporate into your diet.
Oats are full of fiber that help to lower LDL levels while keeping your HDL levels the same. Incorporating oatmeal into your diet is simple. While it’s most commonly found to be a breakfast item, you can add ground oatmeal to any food. Both soups and casseroles are the perfect place to sneak them in!
Like fish, nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids that help to lower bad cholesterol. Keep in mind that nuts are high in calories, so moderation is key. It is also best to avoid eating nuts that are salted or coated with sugar. Walnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts are three good nuts to incorporate into your diet.
Full of monounsaturated fats, avocados help to break apart plaque in the arteries. By incorporating “healthy fats” into your diet, you’re able to lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.
Additional Stroke Preventative Measures
Diet is just one part of stroke prevention. Living a healthy lifestyle is also important to reduce your risk of having a stroke. Healthy habits should include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting alcohol consumption
Stroke Rehabilitation with UnityPoint at Home
If you do suffer from a stroke, regaining speech, movement and other functions essential to independence can seem like an uphill battle. Our specially trained stroke care team prides themselves on providing exceptional post-stroke care. Through rehabilitative services, therapy, care coordination and medication management, our team will work with you or your loved one to help survivors get back to living a normal life. Click here to learn more about the stroke rehabilitation care provided by UnityPoint at Home.