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7 Dietician-Approved Foods to Reduce Stroke Risk

woman drinking orange juice

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Almost 800,000 people in the United States experience a stroke each year. Though some stroke risk factors are beyond your control—like race and ethnicity—there are some lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk.

Some of these changes include avoiding smoking cigarettes, remaining active, and limiting your salt intake. But along with these lifestyle modifications, eating certain foods can help too.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet (DASH diet) was originally designed to, as the name implies, stop hypertension. However, since hypertension is a risk factor for stroke, following this dietary pattern may reduce the risk of ischemic stroke as well.

The DASH diet emphasizes foods that include:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Lean meats
  • Nuts and seeds

Within the DASH diet, there are some particularly helpful foods you should zero in on. This National Stroke Awareness Month, learn about seven foods that may reduce your stroke risk, especially if they are enjoyed in conjunction with an overall healthy lifestyle.

100% Orange Juice

Starting your day with a glass of 100% orange juice may be one of the best steps you can take to support your heart health. This no-sugar-added beverage naturally contains potassium, a nutrient that, when consumed, decreases the risk of stroke for certain groups of people like older women.

100% orange juice contains natural plant compounds called flavonoids. Including the unique flavonoids found in citrus foods (like OJ) in your diet may also be beneficial. Specifically, data shows that a higher intake of flavonoids was linked to a 22% reduced risk of ischemic stroke in men and a 19% reduced risk of stroke in women.

Walnuts

Eating nuts like walnuts can be a positive addition to any stroke-prevention diet. 

Research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association shows that, compared with individuals who don’t eat nuts (like walnuts), those who consumed more nuts (half a serving a day or more) were at a lower risk of stroke.

One meta-analysis of 14 studies, also found that eating walnuts and other nuts may be related to decreased risk of stroke.

Strawberries

Enjoying strawberries can help you reduce your sugar intake while still enjoying naturally sweet food. In fact, eight large strawberries have less than 8 grams of sugar.

Strawberries also contain the densest concentration of the antioxidant fisetin in the human diet. Studies point to fisetin as a promising novel antioxidant that can potentially prevent ischemic stroke.

Dairy

Dairy foods are a nutritional powerhouse and are a natural source of key nutrients highlighted in the DASH diet—calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

A review study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that people who consumed higher amounts of dairy had a lower risk of stroke.

Tea

Sipping on a soothing cup of tea may help too. Try ncluding black, green, and oolong teas in your diet. 

Data shows that the more tea a person drinks, the lower their stroke risk. So, swapping out your soda for a hot or iced tea can profoundly impact your heart health. 

Dark Chocolate

Enjoying some dark chocolate may help keep your stroke risk at bay. According to a study published in Nutrients, three servings (one serving was 30 grams) a week is the sweet spot.

However, more isn’t always better in the case of chocolate, since according to this data, eating more than three chocolate servings a week didn’t offer any additional stroke risk reduction.

Fish and Shellfish

As long as you aren’t choosing fried choices, fish and shellfish can be one of the best additions to your diet to help reduce your stroke risk.

In fact, the American Heart Association recommends that people eat two seafood servings a week to support heart health. Specifically, they state it can "reduce the risk of congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and sudden cardiac death, especially when seafood replaces the intake of less healthy foods.”  

When choosing seafood options, stick to lower mercury choices like salmon, shrimp, and pollock. 

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