Eating Well After a Stroke – Part 2

Eating Well After a Stroke

Part 2

Eating well after a stroke is key to recovery. Choosing healthy foods can help control blood pressure, body weight, reduce a person’s risk of having another stroke, and may help with the demands of stroke therapy and other daily activities.

Eating Well After a Stroke(5) Limit your intake of saturated and trans fat and cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance made by your body and found in foods of animal origin. Your body needs cholesterol to maintain the health of your body’s cells.

However, too much cholesterol in your blood can increase your risk of stroke and heart disease. High levels of blood cholesterol are the result of two factors: how much cholesterol your body makes, and how much fat and cholesterol are in the food you eat.

Diets high in saturated fats are linked to high cholesterol and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature and are found in animal products like meat, cheese, egg yolks, butter, and ice cream, and some vegetable oils (palm, palm kernel and coconut). Limiting the amount of saturated fat you eat from these foods is key to stroke prevention.

To cut the saturated fat in your diet, make the following substitutions:

Instead of… Choose…
Butter Light or diet margarine
Regular cheese Low-fat or nonfat cheese
Creamer or half & half Nonfat creamer or nonfat half & half
Whole or 2% milk 1% or nonfat (skim) milk
Cream cheese Reduced fat or nonfat cream cheese
Regular ice cream Nonfat or low-fat frozen yogurt or sorbet
2-4% milk fat cottage cheese 1% or nonfat cottage cheese
Alfredo or other cream sauces Marinara, primavera or olive-oil based sauce
Mayonnaise Light or nonfat mayonnaise
Prime grades of beef Choice or Select grades of beef
Spareribs Tenderloin
Chicken with skin on Chicken without skin
Whole egg Egg whites or egg substitutes

Diets high in trans fats are also associated with high cholesterol and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Trans fats are formed when an unsaturated vegetable oil is turned into a more saturated one through a process called hydrogenation. Food products that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils should be avoided.

Trans fats are found in:

  • Anything made with partially hydrogenated fats (e.g., many processed foods including cookies, crackers, fried snacks and baked goods)
  • Stick margarine
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Most fried foods

Choose the following substitutions to limit the trans fat in your diet. Look for foods that are labeled trans fat free or those that use liquid vegetable oils instead of hydrogenated ones in their ingredients.

Instead of… Choose…
Stick margarine Trans-free margarine or liquid margarine
Deep fried foods Baked, grilled or broiled foods
Crackers made with hydrogenated oil Baked crackers or crackers made with vegetable oil
Granola bars made with partially hydrogenated oil Granola bars containing canola or other liquid oil
Energy bars dipped in frosting or chocolate Plain, non-coated energy bars
Powdered creamers containing hydrogenated oils Nonfat half & half, skim milk

Limiting cholesterol in foods is another important step to cholesterol control and stroke management, and can be achieved by:

  • Trimming visible fat from meats and removing the skin from poultry
  • Cutting back on how frequently you eat meats, poultry and other animal-derived foods
  • Limiting your portion size of meat to no more than 3 ounces at a sitting (size of a deck of cards)
  • Limiting butter
  • Eliminating lard
  • Choosing nonfat or low-fat dairy foods

(6) Trim the sodium in your diet

Most Americans eat much more sodium than they need. Eating too much sodium may cause you to retain fluids and increase your blood pressure. Not adding salt to foods at the table is one way to cut down on your sodium, but it isn’t enough.

Cut down on sodium by following these tips:

  • Substitute herbs and spices for table salt. Table salt is one of the largest sources of sodium in our diet. Instead of using salt, try using herbs and spices. Avoid mixed seasonings and spice blends that include salt or garlic salt.
  • Use fewer processed and canned foods. In addition to adding flavor, sodium is also used to preserve foods. In fact, the more the food is processed, the higher its sodium content. To cut your sodium intake, limit convenience foods such as canned and instant soups or vegetables, canned meats, frozen entrees, frozen side dishes with sauce packets, instant cereal and puddings, gravy and sauce mixes, and quick cooking boxed mixes for rice, pasta and potatoes. Low-sodium canned soups may be used.
  • Think fresh. Use fresh ingredients when possible and foods with no salt added.
  • Select frozen entrees that contain 600 milligrams or less of sodium. Limit to one of these per day. Check the package label for sodium content.
  • Choose snack foods wisely. Most snack foods like potato chips, peanuts, pretzels and crackers are high in sodium. Choose low or reduced sodium versions of snack foods or eat more natural snacks like plain popcorn, vegetables or fruit.
  • Read medication labels. Although not a significant source of sodium in your diet, read cold, headache, and stomach medication labels. Many contain sodium in the ingredients.

Understanding the sodium content in foods

  • Low-sodium: the food contains 140 mg or less sodium per serving.
  • Very low sodium: The food contains 35 mg or less of sodium per serving.
  • Reduced sodium: The food has 25% less sodium than the comparable food product.
  • Light or Lite in sodium: The food has at least 50% less sodium than the comparable food product.
  • No salt added: No salt was added in the processing of the food product. However, naturally-occurring sodium may be present in the ingredients.

How much sodium should you consume each day?

Most health professionals limit persons with a history of heart disease or stroke to 2,000 milligrams each day. However, if you have high blood pressure, it is strongly recommended that you limit your sodium to 1,500 milligrams daily. Talk with your doctor to determine what your sodium level should be.

The third part of this article will be emailed to you next week

© Copyright 1995-2016 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 9/5/2014…#13486

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