Choosing healthy foods may contribute to recovery after stroke. Healthy foods can help control blood pressure, body weight, reduce risk of another stroke, and may help with the demands of stroke therapy and other daily activities. In this post, we explain why a healthy diet matters and then provide tips for eating well and making mealtimes easier.
No two people have the same nutritional needs. Talk with a registered dietician or your doctor to learn how to plan and prepare meals and snacks that will enhance your recovery.
In general, a healthy diet reduces your risk for stroke by lowering the cholesterol that can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries. A healthy diet can also reduce your blood pressure, which can reduce strain on your blood vessels. Healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and fish containing omega-3 fatty acids can also provide benefits like better weight and more energy. Omega-3s may also improve focus and concentration. And of course, because no single food can provide our bodies with all of the nutrients needed for good health, it’s wise to include a variety of foods in your diet each day.
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has these recommendations for a healthy diet:
One helpful tool to track your healthy eating is ChooseMyPlate.gov, a website provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is designed to help determine your energy and nutrient needs, track them, and help you stick to a healthy diet.
To make grocery shopping easier, the National Stroke Association recommends this healthy foods shopping list for your next foray to the supermarket.
Some survivors of stroke have a loss of appetite, while others may find eating difficult due to swallowing problems or limited arm movement. To make eating a little easier, try these steps (and as always, talk to your healthcare team to make sure you’re getting the nutrition you need):
In addition, caregivers should watch for any problems the survivor may have with chewing or swallowing, and consult with your medical provider about it.
Finally, eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring or complicated. Check these resources for simple, healthy meal essentials: