How good eating may prevent a stroke

If you are at risk or have had a transient ischemic attack or stroke then you need take a good look at what you are eating.

The risk factors for stroke are the same as for heart diseases

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • smoking
  • stress
  • excessive alcohol consumption or binging
  • diabetes
  • overweight

Since most of these are related to eating habits, it proves eating a heart friendly diet will help prevent an attack of stroke.

  • Controlling hypertension or high blood pressure gets top priority in preventing a stroke.  This means keeping added salt to not more than a teaspoon a day.
  • Eating lots of fruits and vegetables seem to give protection against having a stroke because of their high antioxidant, mineral and vitamin content.  The best of these that will help you are cooked or raw tomatoes, melons, oranges, greens, bananas, winter squash, beets, figs, dates, prunes, raisins, papaya, mango, pumpkin, potato, okra, mushrooms, berries, broccoli, peas.
  • Fat free yoghurt and milk seem to reduce high blood pressure because of the calcium, potassium and magnesium content in them. They are good tummy fillers too in a reduced calorie diet.
  • Naturally oily fish is possibly the best animal food that a non-vegetarian can eat.  You need to consume the natural fat in the fish.  So it is best to avoid methods like deep frying  as its healthy oils will leach out into the frying medium. Pan grill/fry in a non-stick pan or with minimal oil and keep basting the fish with its own oil that oozes out.  Have fish 2 or 3 times a week.
  • Use a variety of whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts in your diet. Nuts and seeds contain fiber and omega 3 fatty acids that help lower Ldl-cholesterol, prevent formation of blood clots and keep the blood vessel lining healthy. They also contain Vitamin E which is a good antioxidant.
  • Choose the right kind of oil for your cooking as this is a major factor that influences blood cholesterol level and heart illnesses. Avoid hydrogenated oils and trans fats. Traditional oils from sesame and mustard are especially considered to have antihypertensive and cholesterol lowering properties. Cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, soya, corn olive, are all good oils. Use at least 2 types for daily cooking.

Other strategies to prevent stroke include maintaining right weight, managing stress, regular exercising, minimising alcohol intake and not smoking.

Parvathy R Krishnan
Parvathy R Krishnan, a Nutrition & Dietetics expert, is a member of Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India. Parvathy blogs at

More articles by this author:
The importance of carbohydrates to the diabetic
How to reduce cholesterol in the Indian diet
Diet to control blood pressure

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