August 2-8 is National Stroke Week Australia.
This week we share awareness of managing, preventing, and reducing your risk of further stroke. Eating a healthy diet reduces known stroke risk factors, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle is important in stroke recovery and in preventing further strokes.
Without further ado, here are The Stroke Foundation’s do’s and don’ts guidelines for healthy eating:
Fruit and vegetables: Containing antioxidants, fruit and vegetables can help reduce damage to blood vessels. They also contain potassium to help control blood pressure.
Grain foods: Wholegrain and high fibre varieties including bread, cereal, rice, pasta, noodles, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley, contain fibre and folate – for lowering cholesterol.
Dairy foods: Milk, yoghurt, cheese and their alternatives (e.g. soy or rice milks) are dairy foods that provide another source of potassium, along with calcium to help control blood pressure.
Lean meats and poultry: Including fish with bones, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds are other sources of calcium.
Salt: Always choose lower salt options as too much can raise your blood pressure. Don’t use salt when cooking or at the dinner table. Reduce your intake gradually so your tastebuds can adjust.
Sugar: Too much sugar can damage blood vessels. Always choose low-sugar or no-sugar options, and carefully read the labels for food and drinks containing added sugars such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy drinks and confectionery. Substitute sweets for nuts or fresh fruit instead.
Saturated fats: Limit foods high in saturated fats such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips and savoury snacks. Saturated fats are found in foods such as butter, cream, margarine, coconut oil and palm oil. These cause high cholesterol, so opt for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oils and spreads like nut butters or avocado.
Alcohol: Consuming too much alcohol contributes to a number of stroke risk factors, including high blood pressure. For stroke after-care, be advised by a doctor when it is safe for you to drink alcohol again and how much is safe for you to drink. Even better, drink plenty of water instead!
Find out more about National Stroke Week here