Heart health and diabetes
Heart health and diabetes are closely connected and heart disease is one of the most common complications of diabetes. As a diabetic, my risk for heart attack or stroke is doubled.
Can I help it?
Yes. The first step is to keep track of the ABCs of living with type 2 diabetes – my A1c, blood pressure and cholesterol levels – and make sure they’re in control. Next comes making healthy lifestyle choices that will help me stay on track and this involves adopting a diet that supports my heart health and diabetes. What I eat will make all the difference to my ABCs.
Let’s focus on a heart healthy diet today. Most people with diabetes try and follow some sort of a diet where the goal is to control carbohydrate consumption and practice portion control to keep blood sugar stable. A heart-healthy diet goes beyond carb counting; it also means ensuring that you make healthy choices from all the food groups.
Here are some tips:
- Limit foods high in unhealthy fats and cholesterol by avoiding cooking in butter. Choose:
- healthy cooking methods such as baking, broiling, steaming, grilling
- Fresh foods over processed foods
- Lean protein like beans, skinless chicken and fish
- Low fat or nonfat dairy products
- Include healthy unsaturated fats at least three times a week. Examples are avocados, nuts, seeds, plant based oils like canola, olives. Olive oil is rich in mono-saturated fats, which is healthy.
- Follow a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are high in essential nutrients and fiber.
- Limit your sodium intake especially if you have hypertension. Consult your doctor for specific advice. You can limit salt by
- Focusing on more fresh foods and less processed foods
- Studying food labels before you buy stuff
- Not adding salt during the cooking process
- Using herbs and spices to flavor your food
- Getting rid of your salt shaker from the table
- Being careful when you eat out as restaurant food is salt-heavy
- While snacking, skip the chips and cookies. Instead, pack a handful of nuts, rich in heart-healthy fats.
- I am vegetarian, but the dietician has this tip for non-vegetarians: Rather than shop chicken wings, chicken thighs or legs, buy chicken breasts as they are the leanest part of the chicken – low in cholesterol and saturated fat.
- Avocado, the nutrition powerhouse, is a good source of healthy fat and tastes great in your salads and sandwiches
- It is believed that a few meatless meals each week is good for the heart. Substitute meat with beans, tofu, veggies and lentils.
- Switch from white bread to 100% whole grain bread.
- For dessert, opt for a fruit rather than processed food.
- Include whole grains in your diet.
As I said earlier, heart health for diabetics begins with managing your ABC levels, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising every day and eating healthy. And – taking your medication on time and as prescribed.
• Keep track of your blood sugar
• Manage your weight to reduce the risk of heart disease.
• Be active
• Eat healthy
• Take your medication as advised
• Quit smoking
Since diabetics are twice as likely to suffer from a stroke or a heart attack, making lifestyle changes that can prevent this is worth it. Protect yourself.
Day 8 of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge
Living with type 2 diabetes – Heart health and diabetes