The foods you eat can help by lowering your risk for stroke and improve your overall health. Research shows a brain-healthy diet is rich in:
- Fish* (Salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring or trout, which are rich in omega 3 fatty acids)
- Whole-grain, high-fiber foods
- Dairy: Fat-free and low-fat (1%) products
- Lean meats like skinless poultry
* Research shows these “brain foods” can reduce your risk of stroke.
Get a variety of these foods so your whole body gets the important dietary building blocks it needs, including the nutrients your brain needs to stay healthy. Try to avoid saturated and trans fats, sodium and added sugars.
Why it matters
A healthy diet reduces your risk for stroke by lowering the cholesterol that can lead to plaque build-up in your arteries. Nutritious foods can also lower the plaque’s ability to form clots that can break off and cause blockages. And a healthy diet can also reduce your blood pressure, which can reduce strain on your blood vessels and the resulting inflammation.
Avoiding negatives isn’t the only pay-off. Healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and fish containing omega 3 fatty acids can also provide benefits that we can often enjoy right away.
A brain-healthy diet can help you move to a healthier weight and enjoy more energy, thanks to a steadier supply of blood sugar. You might also find yourself craving less junk food because your appetite-regulating hormones are working well. Omega 3s can also improve your focus and concentration, and lower your chance of depression.
The earlier you start developing healthy habits, the sooner a brain-friendly diet becomes a no-brainer. Try these helpful tips:
- Grocery shop on the outer aisles. You’ll find produce and fresh selections of staple foods. Avoid processed and ready-made foods on the inner aisles. They’re usually higher in sodium and sugar — and cost!
- Chop vegetables and fruit ahead of time and keep them handy for snacks and cooking.
- If your week is busy, cook healthy meals over the weekend and keep them in the fridge or freezer.
- Learn the head/heart health connection
- More nutrition tips
- Find AHA cookbooks filled with deliciously healthy recipes
This content was last reviewed on 04/30/2014.