May is Stroke Awareness Month. Being aware of the signs of a stroke as shown above is essential for saving lives so always act FAST. Prevention is equally important and high blood pressure is the single biggest risk factor for stroke. Here are my nutrition tips to help lower your blood pressure and prevent stroke.
To lower your blood pressure and prevent stroke:
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
- If you drink alcohol, drink sensibly
- Make sure you don’t have too much salt
Reach and maintain a healthy weight
There is so much information available about how to lose weight and stay healthy. Whatever you might glean from the media or friends and family it’s important to know that there are no miracle diets or ways of eating. The key thing is to find an approach that works for you that ensures you get all the nutrients you need for health and the reduce your risk of other diseases. There is plenty of information on my website about how to do this. Check it out here.
If you enjoy an alcoholic drink stick to the 14 unit/week limit. Remember it’s a limit not a target and if you drink any alcohol at all it increases your risk of illness and becoming over weight. So the goal really is to see how low you can go. You should also avoid binge drinking completely. In the UK we define binge drinking as drinking more than:
- 8 units of alcohol in a single session for men
- 6 units of alcohol in a single session for women
Changing your drinking habits might be a challenge but there is plenty of really practical advice on my website here
Avoid having too much salt
Sodium and Chloride are minerals that are essential for health but together as sodium chloride they form salt. Salt is essential for health in very small amounts to keep our fluid levels balanced. Most of us however have too much salt in our diets. You should have no more than 6g salt/day. Fizzy vitamin supplements or painkillers can contain up to a gram of salt per tablet so these are best avoided.
To keep your salt intake down:
- Check food labels and look for foods with 0.3g salt/100g or less
- If you use tinned vegetables and pulses look for varieties with no added salt
- Limit your use of soy sauce, brown sauce, ketchup and mayonnaise and choose reduced salt versions where possible
- Have unsalted nuts and fruit instead of salty snacks like crisps, salted nuts and savoury biscuits
- Think about your intake of salty foods such as bacon, cheese, pickles and smoked fish and cut back if you have these foods frequently or in large amounts
- Avoid adding salt when cooking or at the table – there are plenty of healthy ways to add flavor such as using herbs and spices
- Choose low-salt stock cubes, or make your own stock without adding salt
Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing recipes on my Facebook Page, @eatingmindset and Instagram account to give you some ideas for great flavoursome recipes using interesting herbs and spices.
For more information about Stroke Awareness Month head along to the Stroke Association website here