For people with diabetes, blood sugar values are forever on their minds. What to eat? How much to eat? When to snack? Often forgotten are other equally important health parameters such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Many people with diabetes don’t realize that their risk for heart disease is double to quadruple that of someone who does not have diabetes. For this reason, people with diabetes must make food choices that support the heart as well as help to manage blood sugar. Check out my earlier post about diabetes and the heart.
Here are three diabetes-friendly and heart-healthy foods to eat often. They’re all carbohydrate-rich, so read labels or search the Internet to learn how many grams of carbohydrate are in your portion. Count these toward your totals for meal planning purposes. A future post will list additional great choices for people interested in heart health.
Beans. Rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium, folate and several health-boosting phytochemicals, beans are linked to lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease. Eating at least four servings of beans per week lowers the risk of coronary heart disease by 22 percent. Beans also have resistant starch, which is resistant to digestion. Thus, it doesn’t contribute to blood sugar.
- Rinse canned beans to lower their sodium content by about 40 percent.
- Add canned beans to any favorite soup or on top of a green salad.
- Thicken traditional chili or a favorite soup with a can of mashed cannellini beans.
- Extend your ground meat by mixing it with lentils.
Oats and Barley. These grains contain beta-glucan, a fiber that acts like a sponge, sopping up cholesterol from your digestive tract and preventing it from entering your bloodstream. This same fiber helps control blood glucose too.
- Mix oats into your ground meat when making meatballs or meatloaf.
- Swap one-third of the flour with oats in recipes for muffins, breads and cookies.
- Cook up a barley pilaf in place of rice pilaf.
- Create your favorite pasta salad recipe with barley instead of pasta.
Berries. The blues and reds of berries indicate the fruits’ rich anthocyanin content. That’s good news to your heart because anthocyanins help control inflammation associated with heart disease.
- Grab a handful for a snack or dessert.
- Add berries to smoothies and to hot and cold cereals.
- Combine your favorite berries, nuts, salad greens and small pieces of goat cheese for fun, delicious salad.
- Top a bowl of fresh berries with a few cake crumbs or a dollop of frozen yogurt instead of topping a larger serving of cake or frozen yogurt with a few berries.
Cheers to happy, healthy eating!