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Everything You Need to Know About Diabetes and Heart Health

An overwhelming statistic shows that almost 10 percent of Americans deal with diabetes. Despite multiple risk factors that might have led to its development, being overweight or obese is a tremendous factor - two-thirds of the American population are considered to be overweight or obese.

Everything You Need to Know About Diabetes and Heart Health


Heart disease and stroke is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and the number one killing cause among people with diabetes. Despite the origin of each disease, following a healthful diet can reduce the opportunity for diabetes and heart disease development. If either disease already exists, smart choices can further control or lessen the advancement of the condition.

Following a Diabetic Diet

According to the American Diabetes Association, a healthy diet reduces the risks of heart disease and stroke. A diabetes meal plan is individualized based on the condition status and consists of healthy food choices. Oftentimes, individuals think of a "diabetic diet" as a "carb-free" diet. However, the body does need carbohydrate sources at consistent times for blood sugar regulation. Best carbohydrate choices to keep glucose levels from extreme fluctuations involve whole grains, veggies and fruits, and dairy products. Furthermore, these varieties are often low to moderate on the glycemic index scale, as they will not rapidly spike blood sugar levels.

Whole Grains
Choose whole grains and wheat products over refined products. Wheat and related grains contain wholesome vitamins, minerals, and fiber that white and processed foods generally lack. Desserts and other sweetened products can spike blood sugar levels only to dramatically drop. Fluctuations in blood sugars and poor control can lead to further complications.

Vegetables
Vegetables, especially when following a diabetic diet, are generally broken down into "starchy" and "non-starchy." Starchy vegetables are higher in carbohydrates and generally thought to be avoided, yet their consumption can still be included in moderation. However, choose non-starchy veggies as you get more "bang for your nutritional buck." One cup of fresh or a half-cup of cooked, non-starchy veggies only contains approximately 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate.

Starchy: sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, corn, peas, squash, pumpkin
Non-starchy: asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, peppers, salad greens

Fruits
Fruits are often misunderstood. Individuals often think they should be avoided due to their sugar composition. Although fruits do contain sugar, they contain a natural sugar known as fructose. When choosing fruits, go for whole fruits and try to skip out on juices. Juices are often concentrated with additional sugars and lack fiber.

Dairy products
Milk, cheeses, and yogurts contain lactose, a naturally-occurring sugar in dairy products. Dairy products are also excellent sources of calcium and provide ample amounts of protein. When choosing dairy products, be sure to pay attention to the ingredient and nutrition label. For example, Greek yogurt varieties may be loaded with additional sugars.

Although not considered carbohydrate sources, lean proteins and healthy fats are also included in a healthy, wholesome diet. Lean meat and plant-based protein sources include fish, chicken, lean beef, and beans. Unsaturated fat sources include plant oils, nuts and seeds, and fish. The incorporation of each can help further stabilize glucose levels and reduce the opportunity for sugar spikes to occur.

What is a heart-healthy diet?

In addition to a nutrient-rich diet like the diabetic diet described above, heart healthy diets are generally categorized into low sodium and/or low cholesterol diets.

Low Sodium
A low salt or sodium diet is often prescribed following high blood pressure (hypertension) or heart failure. Generally, it is recommended sodium intake should be limited to 2,400 milligrams (mg) or 1,400 mg, depending on severity. Sodium can naturally be reduced by choosing fresh produce and protein sources over prepackaged, processed foods. Salt consumption can be further decreased by rinsing off canned products before use and saying goodbye to the salt shaker at the dinner table. Stay cautious of dressings, condiments, and sauces, as they often house and hide a tremendous amount of salt.

Low Cholesterol
Too much cholesterol in the body can result into a heart attack or stroke. However, the spotlight is steering away from solely cholesterol. Instead of fixating on cholesterol, new research suggests high amounts of saturated and trans fat can result in abnormal cholesterol levels, too. Stop being as concerned about egg intake and pay further attention to the intake of saturated and trans fats. The American Heart Association recommends saturated fat limited to 7 percent of total calorie intake and trans fat limited to no more than 1 percent of total daily calories.

The Bottom Line

Sticking to a healthful diet naturally reduces sodium and cholesterol along with keeping whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean proteins, dairy, and healthful fats in check. BistroMD prepares diabetic safe foods and recipes that will accelerate your health goals all while maintaining blood glucose control and enhancing heart health.

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