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Diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), a disease of the heart and blood vessels. Diabetes is just a risk factor, however, and there are many steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease. Much of the changes you can make revolve around what you eat, and there are many small steps you can take to create more heart-healthy (and diabetes-friendly) meals and snacks. Below are 10 layers you can do to keep your heart healthy while lowering your blood sugar at the same time.
1. Eat more fiber
Fiber is important for heart health as it can help improve blood cholesterol levels. Eating meals with fiber can also help you avoid spikes in blood sugar. Fiber can also help you feel full, so you may feel more satisfied after consuming high fiber meals. Great sources of fiber are fruits and vegetables; Nuts and seeds; Beans, peas and lentils; and whole grains. Most of the carbohydrates that are better for you – think fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – that people with diabetes are encouraged to eat and give up on fiber. Not sure how to start? Try our 30 Day Fiber Up Challenge.
2. Choose healthy fats
Fat isn’t bad, but not all fat is created equal. Unsaturated fat found in plant-based foods can help lower cholesterol, especially when it replaces saturated fat, which is primarily found in animal-based foods. Consuming unsaturated fats has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Good sources of unsaturated fats include avocado, olive oil, vinaigrette dressings, nuts, seeds, and salmon. Scatter two tablespoons of chopped nuts over Greek yogurt or sprinkle two tablespoons of vinaigrette over salads. Healthy fats go well with carbohydrates because you digest them more slowly, which minimizes blood sugar spikes.
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3. Add foods high in omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are a specific type of fat that has been shown to support heart health. There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA comes from plants and is considered an “essential” omega-3 because we have to get this fat from food as our body cannot produce it on its own. ALA is found in seeds like flax and chia, nuts like walnuts, and oils like soybeans and canola. ALA can be converted to EPA and DHA in the body, but the process is inefficient.
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The most common food source for EPA and DHA is oily fish. EPA and DHA have been shown to be the most protective of the heart. The evidence also supports the roles of EPA and DHA in pre-natal, brain, and eye health. Both EPA and DHA are found in all cells of the body and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory functions. Both EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, anchovies, and mackerel. For inspiration, here is a summary of our favorite recipes that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Opt for low-fat dairy products and lean meat
Dairy products and meat can be part of a diabetes-friendly and heart-friendly diet, but it’s important to choose them carefully. Cut down on full-fat and low-fat dairy products that contain higher amounts of saturated fat, as saturated fat has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Instead, choose low-fat and fat-free dairy products more often. Same goes for meat: opt for lean meat along with other lean protein options like chicken, fish, and eggs to keep saturated fat intake to a minimum while providing the body with other necessary nutrients. Lean cuts of pork include tenderloin and boneless chops. Lean cuts of beef include sirloin top, top round steak, eye round steak, bottom round steak, top sirloin, and filet mignon.
5. Cook more at home
Many restaurants and take-away meals are high in calories, sodium, and saturated fat. Try to cut down on restaurant and takeaway food and opt to cook more at home instead. Cooking gives you control and knowledge of which healthy ingredients are going into your meals. For healthy flavor enhancement, use herbs and spices, wholly fruit and vegetable juices, vinegars, low-sodium supplies, graters and marinades, aromatic vegetables (such as onions and garlic), sauces made from pureed fruits and vegetables, and homemade salsas.
6. Cook with less oil
Another way to ensure that your home cooking is healthier is to cut down on recipes that require deep-frying or pan-frying and instead opt for cooking methods that use less oil. Such methods include roasting, broiling, broiling, roasting, poaching, braising, and microwaving. Most recipes that use these methods only use a few tablespoons of vegetable oil or olive oil in the recipe. It’s not that you can’t include fat, especially the healthy unsaturated kind, in your diet, but changing your cooking techniques can control the amount of fat you use so you don’t go overboard. Try these air frying recipes for beginners.
7. Plan your week in advance
It’s much easier to commit to heart-healthy, diabetes-friendly eating habits when you can plan ahead. Take some time each week to plan your meals and snacks, shop for groceries, and chop vegetables or ingredients in advance. You can fully prepare the meal for the week by spending a few hours in one day preparing all meals, or cooking a few days a week to portion and package leftovers for the following days. By preparing meals, you can ensure that you always have something healthy to eat with your meals. This can also help prevent blood sugar spikes and dips.
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8. Limit alcohol
If you drink alcohol, limiting the amount you drink can help lower your risk of heart disease and help control your blood sugar. If you have diabetes and want to drink alcohol, talk to your doctor about how alcohol can affect your blood sugar and whether it can affect your medication. Alcohol can interfere with certain diabetes and heart medications and cause side effects. It can also cause dangerous blood sugar drops at times, especially when consumed on an empty stomach.
If you want to drink, limit your alcohol to 1 drink a day or less if you are a woman or 2 drinks a day or less if you are a man. A drink is defined as 12 fluid ounces of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, and 1.5 fluid ounces of 80 percent alcohol (such as rum or vodka). It’s always a good idea to consume alcohol with your food and choose sugar-free blenders to avoid blood sugar spikes.
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9. Exercise regularly
Exercise is important for everyone, but it is especially helpful for people with diabetes as it can help control blood sugar and lower the risk of heart disease. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes receive 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week plus two muscle strength building sessions per week such as: B. Training with weights or resistance bands. Many types of activities are considered moderate intensity exercise, including walking, cycling, jogging, and swimming. The key is to find a type of exercise that you enjoy and that you can stick with. Find some ideas for every fitness level with these home workouts.
10. Have your ABC checked
ABC stands for A1C (a measure of your average blood sugar for the past 2 to 3 months), blood pressure, and cholesterol. Having your ABC checked regularly can help you control your blood sugar better and take steps to keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol within your target range. If you keep all three points within your goals, you can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Talk to your health team about how high your target area should be and how often you should be checked for all three.
Continue reading: How To Protect Your Heart With Diabetes