Diet Tips for Preventing Stroke: The DASH Eating Plan

Eat for Flavor & Good Health

Nothing makes more sense than eating food that not only gives your taste buds and tummy good feelings, but also gives your body an overall sense of well-being. The common thinking is that in order to eat well, one must suffer through bland and boring meals, while sacrificing all the fun and flavor of the foods we really love to eat. Not true!

Barbecue beef sandwich, chicken and Spanish rice, eye of round steak, chicken salad, smoked ham and cheese—these entrees should get your mouth watering. They’re all part of the 7-day DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan that has been developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to help thwart high blood pressure, the leading risk factor for stroke. The NHLBI suggests that lowered sodium intake combined with following the DASH plan amplifies the healthy benefits and helps prevent hypertension.

There are more benefits to the DASH plan than just lowering your sodium intake and helping prevent high blood pressure. The DASH plan is also low in saturated fat, at fewer than 7% of total calories, and low in cholesterol, at fewer than 200 milligrams per day.

Since high blood pressure, high cholesterol and carotid artery disease are all major risk factors for stroke, the DASH eating plan packs a one-two-three punch in the fight against stroke.

Make your DASH to good health and download the complete DASH eating plan booklet (pdf).

Inside the DASH plan booklet is a 7-day eating plan complete with eating suggestions for every meal, as well as recipes for delicious and nutritious entrees all week long.

Lower Your Sodium Intake

Here are 10 easy ways to eat less sodium:

  1. Do not cook with salt or add salt to food.
  2. Season food with no-salt seasonings such as dried or fresh herbs, pepper, or other seasonings made without added sodium. Avoid seasonings such as soy sauce, chili sauce, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, meat tenderizers and MSG.
  3. Avoid canned or packaged soups. Try making soup from scratch, without added salt, and freeze individual portions to use later.
  4. Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  5. Rinse canned foods with water before cooking or eating to remove some of the sodium. This works well with canned fish or beans.
  6. Use “no salt added” or “low sodium” canned or frozen vegetables.
  7. Avoid convenience products like Rice-a-Roni®, canned or frozen entrees, macaroni and cheese, and Hamburger Helper®.
  8. Omit cured, processed, or smoked meats such as sausage, ham, corned beef, lunchmeat and hot dogs.
  9. Use mozzarella, ricotta, swiss, unsalted cottage cheese, or other cheese labeled low sodium. Avoid processed cheese and cheese spreads.
  10. Read labels for sodium content.