World Stroke Day: 4 Foods To Improve Heart Health

Paul James  |  October 29, 2015
World Stroke Day: 4 Foods To Improve Heart Health

Stroke is responsible for putting a large number of people in the hospital every year. The NHS says that from 2012-2013, over 19,500 people in the UK were admitted to the hospital after having a stroke. As stroke has a number of avoidable risk factors, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can lower your chances of the condition.

To mark World Stroke Day, which takes place every year on 29 October, try taking up a heart-healthy diet. Eating foods that will help you keep your cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels will significantly lower your risk of stroke.

While a nutritious diet can reduce your chances of developing several life-threatening diseases, there are foods that are said to be particularly effective at keeping the heart strong and preventing stroke. Here are four foods that may offer some protection:

1. Soya products
Your cholesterol level plays a major role in heart health. Eating soya will help you keep your cholesterol low. You can find soya in foods like tofu, edamame beans and healthy soya alternatives to milk and yoghurt. Ask the staff at your supermarket or health food shop for suggestions if you've never tried soya alternatives before. According to Heart UK, consuming these products will make it easy to reach the recommended 15 grammes of soya protein per day. As part of a healthy diet, this will help to ensure that your cholesterol doesn't jump to an unhealthy level. 

2. Chocolate
A recent study conducted by the University of Aberdeen found that eating up to two bars (100 grammes) of milk chocolate a day can help to lower your risk of stroke and heart disease. The research included an examination of the eating habits of 21,000 adults over a 12-year period. The results showed that those who ate up to 100g of milk chocolate were 23 per cent less likely to have a stroke than the participants who didn't. 

When eaten in moderation, chocolate is one of the many foods that can help lower your risk of stroke.When eaten in moderation, chocolate is one of the many foods that can help lower your risk of stroke.

"Cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events," Professor Phyo Myint, Chair in Old Age Medicine at Aberdeen University, said. "This may indicate that not only flavonoids, but also other compounds, possibly related to milk constituents, such as calcium and fatty acids, may provide an explanation for the observed association."

The researchers also reviewed past studies that examined the link between chocolate and cardiovascular disease. They found that they all showed a significantly lower risk of stroke when chocolate was consumed.

"Fruit and vegetables lower cholesterol."

3. Fruit and vegetables
The health benefits of fruit and vegetables are clear. However, when it comes to avoiding stroke, the fact that all fruit and vegetables are low in saturated fats makes them an important tool for reducing your stroke risk. Heart UK says that women should eat no more than 20g of saturated fat and men should avoid anything over 30g to keep their chances of stroke low. Fruit and vegetables also consist of soluble fibres that lower cholesterol.

4. Oily fish
According to the NHS, oily fish like mackerel and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and B, and selenium. All of these nutrients are said to protect people from stroke. Studies have found that eating oily fish also lowers blood pressure and prevents fat build-up in the arteries. The NHS advises that we should eat at least two fish servings a week - including one oily fish - to see these health benefits.

At Gracewell care homes, our chefs carefully prepare meals to ensure that our residents are eating healthy foods that meet their dietary needs, including any difficulties they may have with swallowing. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.