Nutrition Advice for Stroke or Heart Patients

December 06, 2018

Recovering from a heart stroke? Read on to get advice from our nutritionist on the kind of diet you should follow during and after recovery.

A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a part of the heart.

Heart attacks are accompanied by symptoms, such as pain in your chest, shortness of breath and cold sweats. But there are cases where such symptoms havent been evident.
Strokes are the most common cause of paralysis because of its ability to injure the brain. Paralysis is caused by the loss of muscle function in parts of your body. It can be localized or generalized, partial or complete, and temporary or permanent.

When recovering from a stroke or paralysis it is important to maintain a strict diet under medical supervision. An experienced nutritionist will help in reaching your health and fitness goals.

Also read about -Keep heart disease at bay with a healthy diet

Here are four things to know about your diet during recovery.

1. High Protein Intake
Protein is important for muscle strengthening and also for fast recovery. Normal protein intake is 1gm per kg body weight but post surgery 1.5 2gms per kg body weight is suggested. One should look to include protein-rich foods at least thrice a week.

Non-veg source: Egg, chicken, fish and other meats.
Veg source: panner, tofu, soy products and also pluses like Rajmah Green grams, lentils etc

2. Low fat (or healthy fat) diet
There are two kinds of fats: Saturated and unsaturated.
Saturated fats are bad and are found in full-fat dairy products and meats as well as many processed foods like cakes and biscuits.

Unsaturated fat, on the other hand, is good and is shown to lower blood cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of heart conditions. These are found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.

Fats to include in your diet:

Saturated fats for hot use: Non-animal fats which are organic, unrefined forms are ideal, Coconut oil, Olive oil, Groundnut oil. Animal fats like Butter, Ghee, Cheese (per ounce = 28gms). Eggs meat and seafood can also be included.
Heres a quick guide on cheese consumption-

  • Cheddar, Swiss, and other hard cheeses pack over 100 calories per ounce
  • Parmesan: 20 calories per tablespoon
  • Feta Cheese: 75 calories per ounce.
  • Goat Cheese: 75 calories per ounce. ...
  • Mozzarella. Panner (100gms ) 20.8gms of fat

Unsaturated fats for cold use:

Organic extra virgin and cold press are ideal. Olive oil, Sesame oil, nut oils like walnut, Flax seed oil, Avocado, nuts and seeds (including nut and seed butter) can be included.

Remember, unsaturated fats are typically liquid at 68degrees and get damaged/oxidized when heated at high temperature.

Fats you should stay away from:
Saturated Fats: Most of them! Manmade fats are never healthy. Trans fats like margarine, hydrogenized oils are particularly harmful.

Unsaturated Fats: These include oils that are highly processed and oxidized by one or more following reasons: light, air, heat. Consuming oxidized oils is never healthy like canola oil (also called rapeseed oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, Rice bran oil corn oil grapeseed oil).

3. Low carb diet
Low-carbohydrate diets increase HDL (good) cholesterol and decrease total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. This diet has a restricted intake of carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary foods, pasta and bread. It is high in protein, fat and healthy vegetables.

The following foods should be avoided

  • Sugar: Soft drinks, fruit juices, agave, candy, ice cream etc
  • Gluten Grains: Wheat, spelt, barley and rye. Includes bread and pasta.
  • Trans Fats: "Hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" oils.
  • High Omega-6 Seed- and Vegetable Oils: Cottonseed-, soybean-sunflower, grapeseed-, corn-, safflower and canola oils.
  • Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose, Cyclamates and Acesulfame Potassium. Use Stevia instead.
  • "Diet" and "Low-Fat" Products: Many dairy products, cereals, crackers, etc.

The following should be eaten
Remember to base your diet on these real, unprocessed, low-carb foods.

  • Meat: lamb, chicken and others. Grass-fed is best.
  • Fish: Salmon, trout, haddock and many others. Wild-caught fish is best.
  • Eggs: Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs are best.
  • Vegetables: Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and many others.
  • Fruits: Apples, oranges, pears, blueberries, strawberries.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • High-Fat Dairy: Cheese, butter, heavy cream, yoghurt.
  • Fats and Oils: Coconut oil, butter, lard, olive oil and cod fish liver oil.
  • Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes and some others.
  • Non-gluten grains: Rice, oats, quinoa and many others.
  • Legumes: Lentils, black beans, pinto beans, etc.

For the occasional cheat days, the following can be eaten
Remember moderation is key.

  • Dark Chocolate: Choose organic brands with 70% cocoa or higher.
  • Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and may provide health benefits if you eat it in moderation.
  • Wine: Choose dry wines with no added sugar or carbs.

However, be aware that both dark chocolate and alcohol will hinder your progress if you eat/drink too much.

4. DASH diet
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. On an average, people reduce their blood pressure by 6.7 mmHg systolic and 3.5 mmHg diastolic in just two weeks of this diet.
Also read about -Managing Hypertension : Getting back to 120/80
The DASH diet plan includes eating more fruits and vegetables, low-fat or non-fat dairy, beans, and nuts. And eating less fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets, and sodium (salt).
The DASH diet guidelines from the original research study specified two levels of sodium reduction: (A) Phase 1 with limited sodium to 2300mg, or about 1 teaspoon per day (B) Phase 2 with further reduced sodium to 1500mg

5. Exercise
It takes time to recover from a paralysis attack and can differ from patient to patient. Your physiotherapist will be able to let you know about your overall condition and recovery chances based on the severity of your condition and also based on how well you follow the rehabilitation process.

This helps the patient continue with the functioning abilities and gain back the affected abilities. The rehabilitation helps the patient become more independent. Even if the patient cannot walk yet, regular movement of the limbs will help the patient to regain at least some movement

Consistent physiotherapy and occupational therapy will help the patient strengthen muscles, stay active and even resume work if required.

Visit here to get Physiotherapy Services Online


Article by Dr. Vighnesh Y, M.D (Internal Medicine)
Consultant Physician, CallHealth

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