Approximately 795,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke each year, and about three of four are first time strokes.

Brain protection after a stroke

Sentara Neuro Stroke Patient Sentara Neuro Stroke Patient Sentara Neuro Stroke Patient

Approximately 795,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke each year, and about three of four are first time strokes. A stroke is the number five cause of death in the U.S., and will kill almost 130,000 people each year.  Someone has a stroke every 40 seconds, and every four minutes, someone dies of stroke.  It’s a leading cause of long-term disability. Let’s learn more about strokes and how to prevent them, with tips from a recent study.

There are two types of stroke:

Ischemic strokes: a clot blocks blood flow in the brain; 87% of strokes are this type.

Hemorrhagic strokes: there is a ruptured blood vessel in the brain

A stroke survivor study tracked folks after their stroke for five years. They were assessed for cognitive decline; their diet and food choices were also reviewed.

The MIND diet includes:

  • Leafy greens such as collard greens, kale, spinach, etc.
  • Berries like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries
  • Healthy oils such as olive, grapeseed, safflower and sunflower
  • Nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, etc.
  • Fish like salmon, tuna and sardines
  • Dried beans and  peas including black, pinto, cannellini, black eyed peas, split peas, etc.

This stroke study showed an association between good food choices and less cognitive decline following a stroke, possibly preserving brain function. Why wait for definitive results on the best way to eat following a stroke. These foods on the MIND diet are good for us in so many ways – with beneficial nutrients to improve our blood pressure, protect the arteries, and reduce inflammation. 

Start in include small changes into your families diet. For example, add baby spinach or kale to salads, have more peanut butter sandwiches for healthy oil rather than a processed meat sandwich.  Slide fish into your menu planning two to three times a week. And don’t the value of legumes. Add to salads, chili, beans and rice, split pea soup.

Recipes to try:


About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.