Which foods may help to prevent stroke?
A stroke occurs when a blood clot or ruptured blood vessel cuts the blood supply to a person’s brain. A person may be able to lower their risk of stroke by eating a healthy and balanced diet.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stroke is the third-leadingTrusted Source cause of disability and the second-leading cause of death globally.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that over 795,000 peopleTrusted Source in the United States have a stroke each year.
This article explores the types of foods to eat and avoid to help reduce a person’s risk of stroke. It also provides other tips for stroke prevention.
Foods to help prevent stroke
A 2015 meta-analysisTrusted Source of 12 studies examining the Mediterranean diet’s effect on stroke found that people who adopt it may have a lower risk of stroke. However, further research is necessary.
The Mediterranean diet includes healthy food options such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish.
People should speak with a doctor for further advice before significantly changing their diet, particularly if they are taking medications. Some foods can interact with medications.
Another 2015 meta-analysisTrusted Source found that high consumption of whole grains may reduce the risk of stroke. However, the authors note that further studies are necessary.
The authors of a 2017 studyTrusted Source indicated that an increased intake of bran and whole grain cold breakfast cereal had links with a lower risk of ischemic stroke. However, overall consumption of whole grains did not have links with a reduced risk of ischemic stroke. Furthermore, the authors concluded that they need further research.
Whole grain foods a person may wish to try include:
- brown rice
- whole grain bread
Many fruits contain dietary fiber and antioxidants, and they may help reduce any inflammation, prevent blood clotsTrusted Source
and maintainTrusted Source cardiovascular health.
According to an older 2013 studyTrusted Source, consuming fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C may help to reduce a person’s risk of stroke.
Some fruits people may wish to try include:
Many vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A 2021 studyTrusted Source suggested that high fiber consumption may help lower blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are risk factorsTrusted Source for stroke.
Vegetables a person may wish to try include:
Research from 2017 indicated that higher dietary protein intake may have reduced the riskTrusted Source of stroke in the general population in Japan. However, the authors suggested the need for further studies on protein intake and stroke.
Some healthy sources of protein include:
Foods to eat less of
People who aim to lower their risk of stroke may consider limiting their intake of some foods.
Foods high in cholesterol
Research from 2018 suggests that high cholesterol levels can increaseTrusted Source a person’s chance of ischemic stroke, which accounts for 87%Trusted Source of all strokes.
Having too much cholesterol in the blood can cause fatty deposits to build up in the arteries. These deposits can suddenly break off and form a blood clot that travels to the brain and causes a stroke.
Foods high in cholesterol include:
- full-fat dairy products
- red meat, including beef and pork
- processed meat, including bacon and sausage
- desserts such as cakes and other baked goods
The CDC note that foods high in cholesterol are generallyTrusted Source also high in saturated fat, which can cause cholesterol levels to rise. Further research into how cholesterol in the diet affects cholesterol in the blood may be necessary.
Foods high in saturated fat
According to the American Heart AssociationTrusted Source, if a person eats too much saturated fat, the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in their blood can rise. A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood increases a person’s risk of stroke and heart disease.
Saturated fats occur naturally, particularly in animal products. Foods containing saturated fat include:
- palm oil
- coconut oil
- certain fried foods
- ice cream
Foods high in trans fats
Trans fats are naturally presentTrusted Source in some animal products, and manufacturers may add artificial trans fats to some foods using hydrogenated oil.
Consuming foods high in trans fats can raise LDL cholesterol levels while reducing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol helps remove other types of cholesterol from the body, which is why some people call it “good” cholesterol.
Foods that are high in trans fats include:
- fried foods, such as doughnuts
- spreads, including margarine
- baked goods, such as cakes, frozen pizza, and cookies