5 Foods That Scientifically-proven to Help Prevent Stroke

5 Foods That Scientifically-proven to Help Prevent Stroke
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Strokes strike fast and can leave a devastating impact. But what if you could fight back with your fork? Buckle up, because we’re diving into the world of delicious defense!

Imagine this: you’re living life to the fullest, then suddenly, bam! A stroke hits, leaving you with a weakened body and a scrambled mind. Scary, right? Strokes are serious business, affecting millions globally each year. But there’s a powerful weapon you might be overlooking: your diet.

Recent scientific research has unveiled a squad of superstar foods that can be your allies in the fight against stroke. We’re not talking about swallowing potions or chugging mysterious concoctions. This is about harnessing the natural power of delicious, everyday ingredients.

Intrigued? Buckle up! In this post, we’ll delve into the science behind 5 incredible foods with the potential to lower your stroke risk. From leafy green champions to fatty fish powerhouses, we’ll explore how these dietary warriors can help keep your blood pressure in check, reduce inflammation, and promote overall cardiovascular health.

5 Science-Backed Foods to Help Prevent Stroke

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80% of strokes are preventable. Lifestyle changes, especially nutrition, have the power to dramatically reduce your risk of stroke and other health problems.

Improvements to your lifestyle can lower your risk of stroke in as little as 3 months — not only preventing a first stroke, but also preventing a second stroke if you’ve already had one. So it’s not too late to make changes.

So, ditch the stress and grab a grocery list – it’s time to empower your plate and take a proactive approach to your health!

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is a dietary or lifestyle approach strongly linked to reducing risk of stroke. It’s based on traditional foods in the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece and Italy. It’s largely composed of:

  • Fruits (at least 5 servings per day)
  • Healthy fats, such as such as fatty fish or seafood, nuts, seeds, avocado, and extra-virgin olive oil
  • Beans and other legumes
  • Vegetables (at least 3 servings per day)
  • Whole grains such as quinoa

Nuts and olive oil are examples of healthful fats that you can easily sneak into your day. Studies show that even small quantities, like an ounce of nuts per day, a quarter of an avocado, or a tablespoon of olive oil with meals, can make a big difference. They have specifically been shown to reduce the risk of stroke.

She recommends 1 ounce of nuts per day. This can help reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and support overall vascular health. Nuts are also a source of unsaturated fats, which can lower low-density lipoproteins (LDL, sometimes referred to as “bad cholesterol”) and raise high-density lipoproteins (HDL, often referred to as “good cholesterol”).

Beets and other red or purple foods

Adding more red or purple fruits and vegetables to your diet. Beets in particular can help reduce blood pressure, which is one of the biggest risk factors for stroke.

“Studies show that one 8-ounce glass of beet juice can help lower systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by 5 to 8 points,” she says. “Beets are high in dietary nitrates, which dilate (open) the blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow throughout the body.”

Beets and other red or purplish plant-based foods, including pomegranates, cherries, red grapes, berries, and purplish-blue leafy vegetables, also contain antioxidants called anthocyanins. Antioxidants help prevent and repair cellular and DNA damage. DNA damage can speed up aging and increase the risk of disease.

Eating more antioxidant-rich foods can help improve blood pressure and lessen inflammation. Many of these foods also contain fiber, which helps lower cholesterol.


Sprinkling cinnamon on food is a simple way to help reduce stroke risk. It works by reducing blood pressure, blood glucose (sugar), inflammation, and LDL, all of which are significant risk factors for a stroke.


Oatmeal is an amazing option. It is super high in fiber, and it’s actually a fermentable fiber. That means if you heat it up and then let it just cool for a few minutes, it starts to ferment, and that feeds a specific type of beneficial bacteria in our gut. It binds to cholesterol and carries it out of our body for excretion. So, eating oatmeal can reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and lower your cholesterol.

Foods high in fiber, potassium, or magnesium

The saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is based in some truth. Apples contain fiber, which helps lower cholesterol.

Apples (and pears) also are rich in an antioxidant called quercetin, which can help prevent blood clots, relax arteries, and improve blood flow. They are also a source of potassium, which can further help to lower blood pressure. Additional foods high in potassium include bananas, beans, avocado, and sweet potatoes.

Beans are a powerhouse food. They contain fiber, potassium, and magnesium, all of which help keep the blood clean of cholesterol, relax blood vessels, and lower blood pressure.

Limit salt and sugar to reduce stroke risk

Limiting salt and sugar is a key step in reducing stroke risk. Most people should eat less than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day—even 1,500 milligrams for the greatest benefit (about two-thirds of a teaspoon).

As for sugar, I recommends no more than 25 grams per day (about 2 tablespoons). “The less refined or added sugar the better. Sugar can cause inflammation in your blood vessels and brain,” she says.

However,  salt and sugar can be helpful in an unexpected way. “If you add just a tiny bit of either salt or sugar when you’re first starting to get used to certain foods you don’t like — over time, that can help you adjust. Say you don’t like carrots, but you’re trying to incorporate them into your diet. You can try adding a bit of salt and slowly decrease the amount of salt over time, which can help you adjust to the taste and eventually like them.

Healthy hacks for stroke prevention

It can be hard to change your diet. I offers a few tips:

  • Fill your plate halfway with fruits or vegetables.
  • Grab a handful of nuts as a daily snack.
  • Have at least 1 fruit or veggie every time you eat.
  • Sneak healthy options into foods that you already like, such as eggs, smoothies, and sandwiches.
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About the Author: Sasha Bayat, RD, LDN

Registered dietitian Sasha Bayat, RD, LDN.Sasha’s advice for easy, nutritious meals is to keep staple items that are shelf stable in your pantry and to practice having half a plate of vegetables, a quarter of protein, and a quarter of complex carbohydrates. She advises not to shy away from bagged, canned, or frozen foods, as they can still offer just as many nutrients!

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