Nutrition and Meal Plans
After a stroke, it is often hard for a person to get the nutrients they need. Your loved one’s speech-language pathologist and dietitian are great resources to turn to for questions about healthy and safe drinking and eating post-stroke. A dietician can also recommend dietary supplements, or meal plans that target specific foods and beverages to optimize nutrient intake.
The following concerns may contribute to poor nutrition following a stroke:
- Swallowing problems – the medical term for this is dysphagia
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty using dominant arm/hand to drink and eat
- Trouble with memory or thinking clearly
Foods high in antioxidants, potassium, fiber, calcium and folate (folic acid) have been associated with good health after stroke. Below is a list of some foods that contain each of these.
Antioxidants: Help reduce damage to blood vessels
- Fruits – cranberries, red grapes, peaches, blueberries, red berries, figs, mango
- Vegetables – artichokes, kale, broccoli, spinach, avocado, asparagus, carrots, red cabbage, beets, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin
- Spices and herbs – cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, cumin, parsley, basil, curry powder, garlic, sage, thyme
- Cereal - cornflakes, oatmeal, granola
- Legumes (beans)
Potassium: Helps control blood pressure
- Fruits – bananas, oranges, melons, apricots, grapefruit
- Vegetables – cooked spinach and broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms, peas, cucumbers, leafy greens
- Beans or legumes – lima beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, soybeans, lentils
- Fish – tuna, halibut, cod, trout, rockfish
- Whole-wheat breads, pastas and cereals
- Brown and wild rice
Fiber: Helps lower cholesterol
- Fruit – prunes, bananas figs, avocados, blackberries, raspberries
- Vegetables - brussel sprouts, broccoli, artichokes
- Legumes – spilt peas, lima beans, lentils
- Seeds and nuts – chia seed, flax seed, coconut
- Grains – oats, quinoa, buckwheat
Calcium: Helps control blood pressure
- Dairy products – milk, yogurt, cheese
- Vegetables – kale, collard greens, broccoli, spinach, kelp, okra
- Legumes – white beans, soybeans
- Fish – sardines
Folate (folic acid): Found to reduce risk of stroke
- Legumes – kidney beans, lentils, peas
- Vegetables – asparagus, leafy greens, beets, brussels sprouts, broccoli, avocado
- Fruits – citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes), papaya, bananas
- Nuts and seeds
- Beef liver
- Wheat germ
Foods to Limit After Stroke
- Salt – Too much salt can raise blood pressure. Read labels carefully and choose lower salt options when possible.
- Sugar – Too much sugar can damage and weaken blood vessels. Avoid food with added sugar.
- Saturated fats - Foods high in saturated fats can cause high cholesterol. Try to stick to healthy fats like nuts and avocados.
- Alcohol - Drinking too much alcohol can contribute to a number of stroke risk factors, including high blood pressure. It’s highly recommended that stroke survivors consult a doctor before drinking alcohol again.
Always consult a doctor or dietician to help you determine the best diet for your loved one.