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Poor Diet

Why is healthy eating important?

Types of fats



Why is healthy eating important?

What we eat can make a big difference to the health of our health.  We can reduce our risk of suffering a stroke by maintaining a healthy body weight and by eating a healthy, well balanced diet which is high in fruit and vegetables, low in salt and fat, particularly saturated fat, and eating at least two portions of fish a week - at least one of which should be oil-rich.

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Types of Fats

Fat is difficult for the body to use up as energy and is more likely to be stored in the body if eaten in excess.  Eating excess fat and being overweight can increase your risk of stroke.

In addition to thinking about the total amount of fat that we eat, it is also important to think about the types of fat we are eating. The two types of fat that can be related to risk of stroke are saturated fats and trans fats.

Saturated fats

Eating too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood which increases the risk of stroke.

Foods that are high in saturated fat:

  • processed meat products such as pies and sausages
  • cheese
  • butter
  • pastry products
  • cakes and biscuits
  • cream, soured cream and crème fraiche
  • oils such as coconut oil, coconut cream or palm oil


Trans fats have a similar effect on blood cholesterol as saturated fats - they raise the type of cholesterol in the blood that increases the risk of stroke. Trans fats are formed when liquid vegetable oils are turned into solid fats through a process called hydrogenation. 

Trans fats may be found in:

  • biscuits and cakes
  • fast foods
  • pastry products
  • some margarines

More information on fat, tips for cutting down and healthier alternatives can be found in the 'Lifestyle Changes' section of this website.

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Why we should cut down;

Eating too much salt can increase your blood pressure which can increase the risk of stroke. Eating less salt can help reduce blood pressure.  We can all take steps to cut down on salt by shopping wisely and using less salt at home.

It is recommended that we have no more than 6g of salt per day.  This is the equivalent of just over one teaspoon of salt.

When most people think of salt they think of shaking it on their food at the table or adding it during cooking.  But most of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy. 

Foods that can be high in salt:

  • bacon
  • cheese
  • soy sauce
  • stock
  • crisps and salted nuts
  • baked beans and canned vegetables
  • pre-packaged or processed products and meals such as pizzas or pies

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Salt is made up of sodium and chloride.  It's the sodium in salt that can be bad for your health.  You will usually see sodium included in the nutrition information on food labels.

Salt - sodium x 2.5

More information on salt, tips for cutting down and healthier alternatives go to the "Lifestyle Changes and Reducing the Risk of Stroke - Eating a Balanced Diet" section of this website.

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Last Updated: 06 February 2015