Nutrition & Meal Plans Following a Stroke

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
  • Nuts
  • 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
  • Eggs
  • 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
  • Eggs
  • 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.

Back to Aphasia Caregiving 101

Caregiving 101