Eating Well After a Stroke – Part 3

Eating Well After a Stroke

Part 3

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(7) Choose foods high in fiber

As part of a heart-healthy diet, fiber can reduce cholesterol and your overall risk for cardiovascular disease. Dietary fiber is the part of plants the body cannot digest. As it passes through your body it affects the way your body digests foods and absorbs nutrients. How much fiber you eat affects not only your cholesterol level and risk for stroke, but may have other health benefits: helps control blood sugar, promotes regularity, prevents gastrointestinal disease and helps in weight management.

Most of us fall short of the recommended daily fiber guidelines

  • 38 grams for men 50 and under
  • 25 grams for women 50 and under
  • 30 grams for men over 50
  • 21 grams for women over 50

How to get more fiber in your diet

  • Start the day off right with whole grain cereal or whole grain toast (if your cholesterol is high, choose oatmeal or oat bran cereal or toast).
  • Instead of fruit juice, have a whole piece of fruit.
  • For a fiber-packed lunch toss ½ cup garbanzo beans into a dark leafy green salad.
  • Choose whole grain buns, bagels, English muffins, crackers and bread instead of enriched or white varieties.
  • Purchase whole-wheat pasta and brown rice instead of enriched or white varieties.
  • Top yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh fruit or nuts.
  • Give zest to broth soup by adding veggies, dried beans or barley.
  • Substitute brown rice for white.
  • Grab fruit, veggies, a granola bar or trail mix for a change-of-pace healthy snack.

The best sources of dietary fiber are raw or cooked fruits and vegetables, whole-grain products, and legumes (e.g., dried beans, lentils, split peas). Refined foods like soda, fruit juice, white bread and pasta and enriched cereals are low in dietary fiber. The refining process strips the outer coat (called the bran) from the grain, lowering the fiber content.

Substituting enriched, white pasta and rice and other refined foods with whole-grain varieties is a great way to boost dietary fiber intake and help to prevent blood sugar fluctuations throughout the day. This, in turn, helps keep you feeling satisfied and can help prevent sudden cravings for sweets or other quick-sugar foods later in the day. The end result: weight control.

(8) Maintain or achieve a healthy body weight

Another important strategy to reducing your risk of a stroke is to achieve a healthy body weight. Watching your portion sizes, eating foods high in fiber and low in fat, avoiding fad diets, increasing your activity, and keeping track of your eating habits are all ways to achieve a healthy body weight. Keep in mind weight loss does not happen overnight, so establish realistic short and long-term goals from the start.

(9) Reduce intake of added sugar

Excess intake of added sugar is associated with hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and dyslipidemia, which are all risk factors for stroke. Examples of added sugar are white sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, jelly, jam, and sweetened drinks. Keep in mind that sweets and desserts contain added sugar. MyPlate suggests lowering your intake of added sugar by using these items less often or by decreasing the amount you use.

(10) Get enough potassium

Adequate dietary potassium intake is necessary in order to maintain proper heart function. However, most adults do not consume enough potassium. Potassium is abundant in fruit, vegetables, and milk products. Therefore, if you consume recommended amounts of these food groups, you should achieve adequate intake.

© 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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