Stroke Connection - September/October 2011 - (Page 20)
how much fat you eat, even if it’s the unsaturated variety. (For an easy-to-understand discussion of dietary fat, go to heart.org/facethefats.) On the other hand, examples of nutrient-dense foods include complex carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals. Complex carbs are often referred to as “starchy foods” and include legumes, starchy vegetables and whole-grain bread and cereal. The best diet for stroke survivors (and everybody else) features foods that are low in calories but high in nutrients. Foods that lack nutrients are referred to as having “empty calories,” because they are more likely to contain added sugar and trans fats. Processed foods are a common source of empty calories. Think of the difference between a candy bar and an apple: A candy bar with all its added sugar and trans fat will be extremely energy dense but will contain very few, if any, healthy nutrients such as complex carbs, protein or unsaturated fat. On the other hand, the apple has very few calories (low energy density) but it is more nutrient dense, because an apple has many of the things your body needs (vitamins A and C as well as calcium, iron and potassium).
When evaluating calorie density, keep in mind how much activity it will take to burn those calories. Going back to the candy bar-apple example: A 3.5-ounce popular chocolate bar contains 343 calories, while an 8-ounce apple has 118. It takes an average 150-pound person 90 minutes to burn off the calories from that candy bar (walking 2 miles an hour burns an average of 240 calories per hour). That same person would only need 30 minutes of walking to burn off the apple. Remember, any calories not consumed are stored in your body as fat. So it’s best to eat nutrient-dense foods that are low in calories. Product labeling requirements make it much easier to shop for those nutrient-rich foods. Labels give important information you can use to make healthy food choices, including the amount of carbohydrates, fats, protein, sodium, cholesterol and fiber. Micronutrients such as vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, riboflavin and iron are listed as well. Food labels also identify the percentage of the USDA recommend daily allowance of each of these nutrients and micronutrients. (To learn how to read nutritional labels, visit heart.org/nutritionlabels.)
itamin K and potassium are two different nutrients that contribute to good health. They are sometimes confused because the chemical symbol for potassium is K. They are not the same. Potassium is required for cells, tissues and organs to function properly. Your body cannot make potassium, so you have to get it through your diet. It can be found in meat, fish, dairy, legumes and numerous fruits and vegetables. As such, if you eat a healthy diet, it is unlikely that you will be deficient in potassium. Symptoms of a deficiency include weakness, fatigue and irregular heartbeat. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin necessary for blood clotting; it also supports bone health.
Although vitamin K is found in food, most of it is produced by bacteria in your large intestines. Coagulation is an important role of vitamin K, which is why survivors using the blood thinner warfarin must watch their intake of it. To help warfarin work effectively, keep your vitamin K intake consistent. Sudden increases may decrease warfarin’s effect. To help keep it consistent, the National Institutes of Health recommend warfarin users limit foods considered high in vitamin K to no more than one serving per day. Foods that are moderately high should be limited to three servings a day. The Recommended Daily Value is 80 micrograms.
Foods High in Vitamin K
FOOD / AMOUNT / % OF DAILY VALUE
Kale (fresh, boiled) Spinach (fresh, boiled) Turnip greens (frozen, boiled) Collards (fresh, boiled) /2 cup 1 /2 cup 1 /2 cup 1 /2 cup
Foods Moderately High in Vitamin K
FOOD / AMOUNT / % OF DAILY VALUE
Brussels sprouts (frozen, boiled) Spinach (raw) Green leaf lettuce Romaine lettuce /2 cup 1 cup 1 cup 1 cup
660% 560% 530% 520%
190% 180% 170% 70%
For more information, go to the website of the National Institutes of Health and search for “Coumadin vitamin K pdf.”
20 S T R O K E C O N N E C T I O N September | October 2011
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