People with diabetes have a greater than average risk of heart disease and stroke. By choosing foods that are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and higher in omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fiber, they can achieve lower cholesterol levels.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes who are at lower risk for heart disease keep their levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol below 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) of blood. And if someone has been treated for a heart problem, a further reduction in LDL-cholesterol to below 70 mg/dl is recommended. Here are a few ideas to help meet this goal.
Buy heart-healthy foods
Keep your pantry and fridge stocked with these so they’ll be readily available for use. Examples:
low-fat dairy products like skim milk and low fat cheeses
lean meats such as chicken and turkey
foods that contain soluble fiber, including oatmeal, oat cereals, oat bran, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots. Soluble fibers attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion and delays the emptying of the stomach, which makes for a feeling of fullness and helps you not overeat. Soluble fibers can also help somewhat in lowering LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol.
fish high in omega-3 fatty acids: tuna, herring, sardines, mackerel, and salmon
oils high in monounsaturated fats, like olive, canola, and peanut oils
Get rid of extra fat while you prepare your recipes
trim fat off meat before you cook it
remove the skin from chicken and turkey
drain the fat from cooked meats
remove fat from soups and stews after they have cooled
Use less fat when preparing foods
Instead of frying foods, bake, grill, broil, or boil them whenever possible.
Use cooking oil spray instead of oil.
Cook rice, pasta, and vegetables with less oil or butter.
Use onions, garlic, peppers, and seasonings to flavor food without using fats.
Eat fatty foods only sparingly
Consider foods that contain saturated fat, trans-fats, and cholesterol as occasional treats, not as everyday fare. Limit the following from your diet:
whole milk and cream
egg yolks (limit to 3 per week)
butter and shortening
organ meats such as liver and kidney
processed snacks and commercial baked goods
Your doctor may also recommend a prescription medication to help lower your cholesterol levels. In that case, these healthy food choices will help you get the most out of your medications.