Foods that Can Lower Stroke Risk

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When it comes to stroke prevention, diet plays a strategic role. Certain nutrients shield against damage to the heart, blood vessels, and brain. Antioxidants boost arterial function and blood flow, warding off vessel blockages. Some plant compounds curb brain inflammation. Fiber normalizes blood pressure while keeping cholesterol in check. Here are choice foods to include in your senior loved one’s meals.

Blueberries

These juicy berries contain anthocyanins, blue pigments with antioxidant power. Blueberries regulate blood pressure by increasing blood vessel elasticity and cutting cholesterol. In addition, anthocyanins enhance brain cell signaling and alleviate inflammation, which decelerates cognitive loss. This was the finding of 2012 research involving roughly 16,000 women 70 years and older. Those who consumed at least two blueberry servings per week had better cognitive health. Remarkably, brain aging was stalled by 2.5 years, preserving the women’s short-term memory, coordination, balance, and spatial navigation. The study was reported in the Annals of Neurology. As a tasty way to start the day, serve ½ cup of blueberries added to low-sugar cereal, oatmeal, a smoothie, or yogurt for breakfast.

For many seniors, shopping for fresh foods and preparing nutritious meals on their own can be challenging. Aging adults who require assistance with the tasks of daily living can benefit from reliable elder care. Lincoln, CA, families trust Home Care Assistance to provide the high-quality care their elderly loved ones need and deserve. Our caregivers are trained to help seniors prevent and manage serious illnesses and encourage them to make healthier decisions as they age.

Citrus

A 2012 study published in Stroke found that high citrus intake reduces stroke risk by 19 percent. Credit goes to flavonoids, another type of plant pigment with antioxidant effects. Flavonoids fight cellular inflammation, reduce cholesterol, and protect blood vessel integrity. A unique function of flavonoids is lowering triglycerides, which are blood fats that stick to artery walls, making them rigid and thick, which hinders blood from reaching the brain. Fruits rich in flavonoids include oranges, tangerines, and clementines. For stroke protection, serve citrus daily. However, avoid grapefruit, which can raise the potency of certain medications to dangerous levels.

Bananas

Potassium-rich foods like bananas lower stroke risk by moderating high blood pressure. When hypertension is uncontrolled, the excessive force of blood against vessel walls weakens them. In this fragile state, arteries can narrow, rupture, and leak. When brain cells don’t get sufficient blood, they die from lack of oxygen and nutrients. High blood pressure can also lead to stroke-producing clots. A 2014 study featured in Stroke spotlights the defensive quality of potassium. Scientists tracked the diets of 90,000 older women for 11 years. Women with the most dietary potassium were 16 percent less prone to stroke than subjects with low stores of this mineral. Among potassium food sources, bananas are full of this nutrient. Other delicious options are cantaloupe, coconut water, oranges, prunes, carrots, spinach, white beans, soybeans, black beans, and potatoes, both sweet and white.

Whole Grains

Multiple studies show that eating whole grains markedly wards off strokes. The intact hulls in whole grains supply fiber, binding to cholesterol and clearing it from the body. If too much cholesterol builds in the blood, fat deposits called plaque stick to blood vessel linings. As plaque accumulates, blood vessels stiffen and narrow, impeding blood flow. Sluggish blood gradually thickens, forming clots. To guard against vascular plaques and clots, serve your loved one three servings of whole grains daily. Scrumptious choices are popcorn, whole-grain pastas, English muffins, breads, low-sugar cereals, and oatmeal. Ideally, phase out refined grain products such as breads, rice, pasta, and rolls. Such foods lack the fibrous hulls that eliminate cholesterol. 

Some seniors have mobility limitations or health conditions that make it difficult to prepare nutritious meals on their own. Every senior has different needs when aging in place. Some simply need occasional assistance with household chores, while others may be managing a serious illness and require more extensive live-in care. Lincoln seniors can count on Home Care Assistance to provide the in-home care they need and deserve.

Tomatoes

This luscious vegetable slashes stroke risk by a whopping 55 percent. Bestowing this effect is lycopene. This red antioxidant pigment controls high blood pressure, cellular inflammation, cholesterol, and blood clots. In the studies mentioned so far, the subjects have been women. In research concerning lycopene, the subjects were men. A Finnish study of 1,031 middle-aged men followed their lycopene levels over 12 years. Men with the highest blood concentrations were 55 percent less likely to incur a stroke, compared to men with the lowest levels. These extraordinary findings were published in a 2012 issue of Neurology. Ideally, older men should eat tomatoes daily. To keep meals interesting, serve tomatoes in various forms, such as fresh, stewed, salsa, juice, sauce, soup, gazpacho, and tomato paste. For optimal lycopene absorption, cook tomatoes and dress them with olive oil.

Salmon

In May 2018, the American Heart Association updated its recommendation for eating fish. Now, the organization urges getting two fish-based meals per week. One serving is 3.5 ounces, equal to a deck of cards in size. Seafood is a prime source of omega-3 fatty acids, unsaturated fats that promote heart and brain health. Specifically, omega-3 fatty acids lessen arterial inflammation, cholesterol, blood pressure, clotting, and triglyceride levels. They also prevent abnormal heart rhythm by enhancing cellular signaling. Other nutrients in fish that deter stroke are selenium and vitamin D. Salmon tops the list of healthiest fish. Serve it broiled or baked.

Low-Fat Dairy

Milk products deflect stroke by normalizing blood pressure. Key nutrients responsible are magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D. To receive this benefit, adults must consume a minimum of two low-fat dairy servings per day. This was the conclusion of a 2012 Swedish study cited by Stroke. Scientists monitored the dietary habits of roughly 75,000 adults for 10 years. Participants who ate the most low-fat milk products had 12 percent higher protection against stroke. For this research, subjects consumed low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Yogurt has the advantage of being cultured with healthful bacteria called probiotics. Such microbes strengthen immunity, moderate blood pressure, alleviate inflammation, and ward off arterial plaques.

Pumpkin Seeds

The American Heart Association praises unsalted pumpkin seeds for their ability to lower blood pressure. Credit goes to magnesium, with ¼ cup supplying 42 percent of our daily need. Additionally, pumpkin seeds are packed with zinc, a mineral with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Pumpkin seed oil is notable for cutting cholesterol. Along with pumpkin seeds, other magnesium-rich foods are almonds, peanuts, cashews, avocado, and tofu, made from pressed soybeans. 

Some aging adults may need help making lifestyle adjustments that include eating healthy foods to reduce the risk of stroke and other cardiac issues. In Lincoln, elderly home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. Schedule a free in-home consultation by giving us a call today at 916.226.3737.