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Dietitians Dish: Eat healthy to prevent stroke

May 24, 2011 at 12:24 a.m.

Loretta Cordes

By Loretta Cordes

May is National Stroke Awareness month. According to the Centers for Disease Control, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and is the main cause of long-term disability. Some of the risk factors are having had a previous stroke, diabetes, TIA or mini stroke, high cholesterol, heart disease or high blood pressure. Other risk factors are obesity, smoking and excessive intake of alcohol.

The key to stroke prevention is to lead a healthy lifestyle. This includes controlling your blood pressure, cholesterol, managing your diabetes and being at a healthy weight.

The biggest way to prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, which can help manage your diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol. This will also help manage your weight. Here are some basic tips on how to eat a healthy diet:

1. Eat foods that are low in saturated fat. Choose lean meat, poultry and fish. Trim extra fat off meats and remove skin from poultry before cooking. Bake, broil and grill meats instead of frying. Limit high-fat meats, such as sausage, hot dogs, bacon and chorizo. Use low-fat dairy products, such as skim or 1 percent milk.

2. Increase intake of fiber. Aim for five or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Eat whole-grain cereals and breads, dried beans and peas.

3.Limit the amount of sodium. Avoid adding salt to your food during cooking, and do not add any at the table. Limit usage of high sodium foods, such as cured meats, salted snacks and prepackaged food. Buy the lower sodium version of soup and canned vegetables when possible. Avoid the use of seasonings and condiments, such as ketchup, celery salt, onion salt, pickles and soy sauce. Choose seasonings that are sodium-free and look for low-sodium versions of condiments. Fast foods are also high in sodium. You have better control of the sodium content of your meals if you prepare them at home.

4.Avoid excess sugar. This includes honey, syrups, white, brown and raw sugars. Use less candy, soft drinks, cake and other sweets. Read labels for hidden sugar. Look at the list of ingredients found on the label. If glucose, sucrose, dextrose, maltose, lactose, fructose or syrups are listed as the first ingredients then the product has a large amount of sugar.

Go to www.stroke.org for more information.

Loretta Cordes is a registered and licensed dietitian with a Master's of Science Degree in Human Sciences and Certified Diabetes Educator. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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