5 Types of Foods that Can Increase Stroke Risk

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More than 700,000 strokes occur each year in the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s estimated that about 80 percent of strokes are preventable with appropriate lifestyle adjustments, especially healthy changes in dietary habits. If your goal is to help your older loved one reduce the risk of a stroke, take a moment to learn more about these five types of foods that could trigger a stroke.

1. Unhealthy Snack Foods

Crackers, chips, muffins, doughnuts, and store-bought pastries may be tasty, but they also tend to be loaded with trans fats and unhealthy oils. The worst offenders tend to be fast-food goodies such as onion rings and fries. A University of North Carolina study involving women who consumed nearly 10 grams of trans fats per day found the subjects had 30 percent more strokes than individuals consuming about a gram of trans fats each day. Additional research suggests trans fats could trigger a stroke because of increased brain inflammation and higher levels of a special type of protein (C-reactive protein) associated with strokes. Healthy snack alternatives include:

• Fresh fruit
• Homemade baked goods instead of store-bought ones
• Whole-grain snacks

If your loved one needs help planning and preparing healthy meals, a professional caregiver can be a great source of support. In Tampa, senior home care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

2. Processed/Smoked Meats

Pastrami, hot dogs, bacon, and smoked turkey or ham should only be enjoyed in moderation by seniors hoping to reduce their stroke risk, because smoked and processed meats tend to be loaded with sodium for preservation purposes. Preservatives such as sodium nitrate and nitrite have also been linked to blood vessel narrowing, which increases the risk of experiencing the type of blockage that could result in a stroke. Healthy sandwich alternatives include:

• Tuna and other healthy fish
• Cooked turkey and thinly sliced ham
• Peanut butter

3. Diet Soda

Researchers at Columbia University found that drinking one diet soda per day increases stroke risk by nearly 50 percent. The study looked at more than 2,000 people aged 40 and older. Those who drank diet soda daily experienced 60 percent more strokes and similar serious health issues than people who didn’t drink diet soda at all. It’s not fully understood why this is the case. However, researchers suggest substituting healthier beverage options, such as:

  • Water
  • Fruit juice
  • Lemonade
  • Iced tea

Recovering from a stroke, managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other health-related situations can make it difficult for a senior to continue living at home without someone there to help. Tampa, FL, live-in care professionals are trained to help seniors who need 24/7 assistance. With the help of a live-in caregiver, your elderly loved one can maintain a higher quality of life while aging in place.

4. Red Meat

After following the habits of more than 30,000 Swedish women for a decade, researchers published their results in the journal Stroke. Women whose diets included daily portions of red meat had a 40 percent higher risk of stroke. The results echo previous research showing a connection between the saturated fat found in red meat and increased stroke risk. Hemoglobin, a red protein that contributes to the high iron content in red meat, may also be a factor. Healthy meat alternatives include:

• White meat
• Lean turkey
• Fatty fish considered healthy (e.g., mackerel, tuna, and salmon)
• High-protein alternatives, such as beans, legumes, nuts, and tofu products

5. Prepared/Canned Foods

Canned and preserved foods contain high amounts of sodium to help with the preservation process. Canned soup, in particular, is especially high in sodium. For instance, a can of chicken noodle soup contains more than 1,000 mg of sodium. Prepared foods can be just as high in sodium. Too much sodium increases blood pressure, which also raises the risk of stroke. Alternatives to high-sodium canned and prepared foods include:

• Homemade soups
• Low-sodium canned foods
• Ready-to-eat prepared foods made with fresh, low-sodium

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