Dieting to Prevent a Stroke

Problem: Strokes are caused when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by block arteries or a ruptured blood vessel, causing oxygen deprivation and the death of cells. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the highest risk factors for a stroke.

Ideal Diet: The National Institute of Health developed Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). Its recommendations are very similar to diets that help prevent heart disease and cancer, in the sense that it encourages more fruit and vegetables, limited sugar and meat intake, and use of low or non-fat dairy products. It is also important to control your intake of salt to prevent strokes. A second study showed that lowering sodium to less than 2,400 mg per day (about 1 teaspoon or 6 grams of table salt) significantly lowered blood pressure. Even lower intakes of salt had more dramatic effects on blood pressure.

Serving sizes: Every day, you should have 7 to 8 servings of grains and grain products (including bread and pastry); 4 to 5 servings of vegetables; 4 to 5 servings of fruit; 2 to 3 servings of low fat or fat free dairy food; maximum of 2 servings of lean meats, poultry and fish; 2 to 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods, and 2 to 3 servings of fats or oils. Every week, you should have 4 to 5 servings of nuts, seeds and dry beans; and 5 servings of sweets.

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