Did you know that foods that are good for your heart health can also be good for your diabetes? For most people, there’s little, if any, need for a diet to help control your cholesterol and blood pressure. The key is eating foods that do “double-duty” in terms of keeping your blood glucose level, cholesterol and blood pressure in check. Let’s take a look at a few of these foods to fit into your eating plan today.
Oatmeal. Oats are a whole grain food as long as they’re not processed, as is the case with many of the sweetened, flavored oatmeal that comes in little packets. Look for steel cut oats that are whole grain and run through steel cutters.
Here’s what oatmeal has to offer:
- It contains two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. The soluble fiber can help lower your cholesterol and blood glucose, and the insoluble fiber helps to fill you up and promotes good digestion.
- Besides helping with diabetes and cholesterol management, the high fiber content of oatmeal may also help lower your risk of colon cancer.
- Eating oatmeal may help to lower blood pressure.
One cup of cooked oatmeal contains about 165 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrate and 4 grams of fiber. Try cooking up a batch of steel cut oats in your slow cooker before you go to sleep at night. It will be ready and waiting for you the next morning. Mix in some nuts and fresh fruit for a hearty, stick-to-your ribs breakfast.
Almonds. Nuts were once considered to be off-limits for many people because they’re high in calories and fat. The tide has turned, however, and nuts are now recommended for most people to include in their daily meal plans (provided there are no nut allergies!). While all nuts can be a healthy choice, almonds in particular are one of the nut “superstars.”
Here’s what almonds have to offer:
- They’ve been shown to lower heart disease risk, thanks to the healthy type of fat and fiber that they contain.
- They contain phytosterols, natural substances that can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- They can help with weight loss and diabetes control, thanks to their fat and protein content which make you feel fuller and help even out blood glucose levels.
Because almonds are so tasty, it’s easy to eat handful after handful. Keep an eye on your portion size, though, because they’re not exactly a low calorie food. One ounce of almonds (about 23) contains 80 calories, 7 grams of fat and just 3 grams of carbohydrate.
Berries. Summer is right around the corner and that means an abundance of fresh fruit, including blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. Yes, berries contain carbohydrate, but they can easily fit into a diabetes eating plan.
Here’s what berries have to offer:
- They’re high in fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and blood glucose, and help with weight loss.
- They’re full of antioxidants, natural substances that help fight off heart disease.
- Berries, in general, have a lower glycemic index, which means that they’re less likely to spike your blood glucose level compared to other foods.
- Blueberries contain a substance that helps keep blood flowing smoothly through blood vessels.
On average, a cup of fresh berries contains between 60 to 80 calories and 15 to 20 grams of carb. Berries go with just about everything, including yogurt, cereal and even salads! If fresh berries are too expensive, try frozen. Avoid buying frozen berries in syrup, though, as that will add more calories and sugar.
Here’s what salmon has to offer:
- It’s one of the richest sources of omega-3 fats.
- It’s an excellent source of protein.
- Salmon eaters may have a lower risk of having a heart attack compared to those who don’t eat salmon or other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids.
- It’s a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps promote heart health.
One four-ounce serving of broiled salmon contains about 230 calories, 3 grams of saturated fat and 25 grams of protein. If fresh salmon doesn’t fit into your food budget, try canned or frozen salmon instead.