A stroke or brain attack damages your brain the way a heart attack damages your heart. Some strokes are caused by blood clots that block the flow of blood to the brain, while others happen when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and as with a heart attack, fast action can save your life. A stroke can strike suddenly, without warning. To protect yourself, make these fantastic foods part of your regular diet and stop stroke before it starts.
You know vitamins play an important role in your overall health. Some even guard you from stroke but don't stock your medicine cabinet with bottle of pills; you can find the vitamins you need in fruits, vegetables and other delicious foods.
Vitamin C — This antioxidant vitamin gets an "A" for its ability to prevent stroke. It neutralises free radicals, lowers blood pressure, strengthens blood vessel walls and helps build collagen. No wonder low levels of vitamin C mean a higher stroke risk. To get more vitamin C, eat the recommended five fruits and vegetables a day which are a healthier, cheaper and safer alternative to supplements. Vitamin C rich foods include sweet red peppers, strawberries, cantaloupe, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, broccoli, green peppers, orange juice, tomato juice and cabbage.
Vitamin E — This antioxidant also features anti-clotting powers; not only does it lower cholesterol by preventing LDL oxidation, it also makes your blood less sticky so it's less likely to clot. Food sources of vitamin E include wheat germ, vegetable oils, dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds.
B vitamins — The homocysteine lowering effect of folate probably works in this particular category. Homocysteine is a dangerous substance that encourages blood clots and hardening of the arteries but vitamin B6's ability to stop platelets from clumping together could have had something to do with it, too. You can get plenty of these vitamins from foods and here's where to look:
Vitamin B6 can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, seafood, legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin B12 appears in meats, fish, dairy foods and eggs. Folate can be found in dark leafy greens, legumes, seeds and enriched breads and cereals. Make an effort to get these helpful vitamins into your diet. After all the right foods can keep your health from taking a wrong turn.
The amazing minerals
Let us discover how potassium — as well as some other nutrients can help you avoid a "brain attack".
Potassium Potassium helps keep your blood pressure under control, especially when you also limit your sodium intake. Lower blood pressure means lower stroke risk but potassium's powers go beyond its effect on blood pressure. So reduce your chance of having a stroke by up to 40 per cent simply by getting more of this natural mineral. Banana is a wonderful source of potassium but if you are going bananas from eating bananas get your potassium from leafy greens, broccoli, cantaloupe, oranges, potatoes, beans, milk, whole grains, meats, coffee and tea.
As powerful as potassium is, it could use a boost from some other anti-stroke nutrients. Make sure your diet also includes the following stroke stoppers.
l Fibre fights high cholesterol and high blood pressure, both risk factors for stroke so eating a good amount of fibre everyday can drastically lower your stroke risk.
l Magnesium relaxes your blood vessels and balances the amount of potassium and sodium in your blood cells. Good sources of magnesium include whole grain breads and cereals, broccoli, spinach, okra, scallops, oysters, mackerel, beans, nuts and seeds, black-eyed peas, almonds, squash, oatmeal and baked potato with skin.
l Calcium, like potassium, helps gets rid of sodium through your urine. You can find calcium in cheese, milk, yoghurt, broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, mackerel and salmon.
An easy way to boost your intake of potassium, magnesium and fibre is to eat more fruits and vegetables.
You will enjoy a variety of delicious foods and guard against stroke at the same time. (Monika Seth/Nutritionist and diet consultant specialising in weight loss at Al Raffah) Hospital