Diet to Prevent Strokes

When it comes to the best diet to prevent strokes, a healthy Mediterranean-type diet and the DASH diet do much more for stroke prevention that any individual foods, vitamins or supplements. This was the results of recent Australian research reported in The Lancet and completed by Dr. Graeme Hankey of the Royal Perth Hospital in Australia.

In this study, Dr. Hankey reviewed the current literature on individual nutrients, foods, vitamins and overall diets as to their effects on stroke risks and prevention. He found that much of the current research was based on unreliable evidence. His conclusion in this VITATOPS trial as written in The Lancet was:

“The overall quality of an individual’s diet and balance between energy intake and expenditure seem to be more important determinants of stroke risk than individual nutrients and foods.”

DASH Diet to Prevent Strokes

One of the clear relationships found in the study was the fact that a high salt intake of around 5 grams a day can increase your risk of stroke by about 23%. High salt diets can also increase your risk of heart disease.

Additionally, having a higher intake of potassium in your diet can lower your stroke risk by about 21%. This may be due to the fact that potassium helps to lower blood pressure levels.

One diet to prevent strokes is the DASH Diet.  The DASH diet is a popular and effective diet that is proven to reduce hypertension and has been shown to reduce stroke risk. DASH stands for ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’. It is a diet rich in potassium, magnesium, protein and fiber.

The DASH eating plan is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat. The plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy. Also included in the diet is whole grain products, lean poultry, nuts and fish.  DASH contains reduced amounts of lean red meat, added sugars, and sugar-containing beverages.

Mediterranean Diet to Prevent Strokes

Based on the traditional diet of the people living in the Mediterranean region, the Mediterranean diet is rich with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Healthy fats such like olive oil and canola oil are used. Red meat is consumed just a few times a month. Fish is eaten about twice a week.

For flavor, the diet depends not on salt but on herbs and spices. This helps to keep the sodium content of the diet at a low and healthy level, which makes it one of the best diets for stroke prevention. Study findings released last year showed that those who followed a Mediterranean-style diet were 36% less likely to suffer brain damage from ‘silent’ strokes, which are strokes that can occur without any symptoms.

If followed correctly, using either the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet to prevent strokes can help to lower your stroke risk by

  1. Reducing your salt intake
  2.  Helping you bring your weight down to a healthy range

According to Dr. Hankey’s review, it is these two factors that present the biggest risk for having a stroke.

What Doesn’t Work

Supplements that did not show any effectiveness in stroke prevention were the beta-carotene, the B-vitamins, antioxidant supplements and calcium. Also ineffective was adding vitamins C and E. In fact, according to the results in the few randomized trials that were done, the B-vitamins, vitamin E and calcium supplements actually increased the risk of heart attacks and death.

Foods To Lower Stroke Risk

The study review did confirm that there are a few foods that have been linked with a lower stroke risk. These foods are:

  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Tea

So, to summarize, the best diet to prevent strokes is one that is rich in fruit and vegetables, low in sodium and promotes weight loss.