Author: Julie Schafer
Hi, I am Julie. As a health educator and Manager of Healthy Living Programs at Brooks, I helped establish the Brooks Stroke Wellness program. It is important to me to help keep stroke survivors fit and healthy. Along with exercise, good nutrition is an essential part of staying healthy following a stroke. Good nutrition is an important health habit for all Americans, especially stroke survivors. Combined with regular exercise, good nutrition can be one of our biggest defenses against chronic disease and illness. Did you know that approximately 70% of all deaths among Americans each year are from mostly preventable chronic diseases that are related to our personal health habits; and heart disease, cancer, and stroke account for more than 50% of all deaths each year?
The good news is……we can do something about prevention and it doesn’t stop there! Even after a stroke happens, it is still just as important to maintain, or start, a healthy diet to keep cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight at healthy levels.
- Eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits.
- Choose whole-grain, high-fiber foods.
- Eat fish at least twice a week.
- Limit cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fat. Avoiding partially hydrogenated oils will reduce trans fats.
- Choose lean meats and poultry, and prepare them without using saturated or trans fats.
- Select fat-free, 1-precent or low-fat dairy products.
- Cut back on drinks and foods with added sugars.
- Choose and prepare foods with little salt (sodium).
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Limit yourself to one drink per day if you’re a woman or two drinks if you’re a man.
- Get tips for dining out.
- Prepare healthy recipes at home — try one of our free recipes tonight.
March is National Nutrition Month. During this month, sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (www.eatright.org), we are reminded by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association to be conscious of “The Salty Six” and try to limit excess sodium in our diets. Lowering sodium intake can help to reduce one’s high blood pressure levels over time.
“The Salty Six” foods are:
- Bread & rolls
- Cold cuts & cured meats
While it may be challenging, you should aim to eat less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. You can do this by beginning to read labels on food and trying to avoid adding extra salt onto your food. Or perhaps you can try making more of your meals at home saving money and becoming more aware of what is in your food.