Nutrition & Diet

Many risk factors for stroke (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes) can be treated with diet.  Talk to your doctor and/or nutritionist to find a diet and exercise plan that is right for you!

High Blood Pressure

Limit Sodium.  The maximum amount of sodium we should eat is 2300 mg/day.  In people with diabetes or high blood pressure, this maximum drops to 1500 mg/day.  Choose foods with less than 300 mg per serving.  Avoid adding salt while cooking.  Limit eating out.  Compare Nutrition Labels.  Increase potassium intake by eating lots of fruits and vegetables.

Foods high in sodium: deli meats, highly processed foods, canned foods, bacon, ham, hot dogs, condiments, sauces, tomato sauce, soy sauce, pre-packaged frozen meals, restaurants, fast food, soup, chips, crackers, pretzels, pickled vegetables.

More than 75% of sodium Americans eat comes from processed, pre-packaged and restaurant foods, NOT the salt shaker!

The DASH Diet.  Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.  The diet is rich in fruits and vegetables!  Choice of low-fat dairy products.  Includes activity (aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days, or 150 minutes/week).  Limits alcohol (men: 2 or fewer glasses per day; women: 1 or fewer glasses per day). Chooses nutrient dense foods.

High Cholesterol

A large percentage (25-35%) of calories from what we eat and drink come from fat.  That’s about 55-78g per day!

Limit Unhealthy Fats. Saturated fats (butter, cheese, ice cream, red meat, palm & coconut oil, margarine, milk) and trans fats (hydrogenated vegetable oil, fried food, cookies, cake, pastries).  

Increase Healthy Fats. Avocados, peanuts, peanut butter, seeds, nuts, tuna, salmon, sardines, flaxseed, chia seed.

Increase Fiber Intake. Fiber lowers cholesterol, helps regulate blood glucose, prevents constipation, and provides a feeling of satiety.  Consume 20-30 g of fiber per day (from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains).  Add fiber into your diet slowly, and drink LOTS of water!

Stay Active!

An exercise habit can decrease the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, and an early death.  Exercise can improve mental health, help you lose weight, improve your sleep, and increase bone density.  Exercise can also be great stress relief! (The Importance of Exercise After a Stroke)

Do something fun!  Exercise doesn’t have to mean the gym – go swimming, play tennis, take a walk in the park, play with the kids, have a dance party…

Set small, achievable goals first!

Low Impact Exercises