Diet to Fight Stroke

Follow this shopping list for a brain-protective diet.
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Doctors say eating the right foods can help protect you against stroke, the number three killer of Americans. They advise choosing: 

Fruits and vegetables.

In one large study, incidence of the most common kind of stroke was 31 percent lower for people who ate five or six servings of fruits and vegetables daily than for those who ate fewer than three. Your best bets include cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli, leafy green vegetables like spinach, and citrus fruits.

Whole-grain products

Select brown rice and whole-wheat bread, not white, and high-fiber cereals. In a study reported last year in the American Journal of Epidemiology, women who ate lots of cereal fiber had fewer strokes.


Here “fatty” isn’t a bad word; the American Stroke Association (ASA) says: “Eat fish at least twice a week, particularly fatty fish, such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon.” 


Calcium-rich milk also seems to offer protection against stroke, but be sure to choose skim or 1 percent fat.


In 1995, a Dutch study said antioxidant compounds called flavonoids cut stroke risk. Not all research concurs, but experts do endorse trading your coffee cup at times for a cup of flavonoid-rich tea instead. (Other flavonoid sources: apples and oranges.) 

Low-fat oils

When selecting cooking oils, look for those with 2 grams or less of saturated fat per 1-ounce serving, such as liquid and tub margarines and canola, corn, olive, safflower and soybean oils, says the ASA.

Salt substitute

Too much salt can promote high blood pressure, so the ASA advises eating less than 6 grams daily (about a teaspoon). Potassium chloride is sold as a substitute for the salt you sprinkle on foods.

Favoring these foods cuts your risk of three stroke precursors: high blood pressure (the biggest single stroke risk factor), diabetes and obesity. It may also help lower your cholesterol, says neurologist Paul Roberts, M.D., of Saint Clare’s Hospital. “There’s growing evidence that high cholesterol may significantly increase the risk of stroke,” he adds. “Some people can reduce their levels through diet alone, while others will need a combination of diet and medications.”

Related Article: The Great Salt Debate

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