Heart-Healthy Eating Tips for People with Type 2 Diabetes

By Jennifer McManus, RD, LDN, CDCES

February is American Heart Month, and we're celebrating with some tips and tricks for a healthy heart.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women.

People with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk of developing heart disease. 

Luckily, there are small but important changes you can make to your diet to decrease your risk of heart disease.

Incorporating complex carbohydrates (e.g. fiber sources such as whole grains, vegetables, and beans ) and healthy fats into your diet is important for blood sugar control and heart health.

When it comes to cholesterol, the main focus from a dietary standpoint is your fat intake.

If you’ve picked up a label lately, you may have been overwhelmed with all the fats listed.

In this article, you'll learn about

  • Trans fat
  • Saturated fats
  • Healthy fats
  • How to limit sodium intake
  • How to get help with taking care of your heart
Trans fats

Trans fats negatively affect cholesterol and are found in foods such as donuts, cakes, bookies, pies, biscuits, and other fried foods. 

    There are two main types of cholesterol: 

    • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL—think L for "lousy”) 
    • High-density lipoprotein (HDL—think H for "healthy" or happy”)

    Trans fats lower your HDL (good cholesterol) and increase your LDL (bad cholesterol).

    When reading a food label, make sure there are "0 grams" of trans fat.

    Also, check the ingredients list and avoid products with “partially hydrogenated oils.”

    Reading the ingredients is important because food companies can sneak these trans fats in if they are less than 0.5g/serving.

    Saturated fats

    Saturated fats also have a negative impact on your total cholesterol.

    Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products such as cheese, meat, milk, butter, and ice cream.

    Coconut oil and palm oil also contain high amounts of saturated fats.

    In order to limit your intake of saturated fats, choose leaner meats such as chicken, turkey, and lean beef. 

    Also, opt for reduced-fat cheeses, milks, and ice cream. 

      Healthy fats

      • Omega-3 fatty acids
      • Polyunsaturated fats
      • Monounsaturated fats

      These are all known as "healthy fats" that can help reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

      Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods such as salmon, walnuts, tofu, flaxseed, and canola oil. 

      Good sources of unsaturated fats include avocado, nuts, seeds, and peanut butter. 

        How to limit sodium intake

        Limiting sodium (salt) intake is vital to heart health.

        Here are some tips and tricks to help monitor your sodium intake:

        • Shop the perimeter of your grocery store and look for fresh fruits and vegetables
        • Shop for lean meats, and lowfat dairy
        • Your freezer aisle has tons of frozen fruits and vegetables that are just as nutrient-packed as fresh fruit and veggies. However, avoid any frozen fruit and veggies that are smothered in sauces, cheeses, butters, and sugar. 
        • When purchasing packaged or canned foods, look for words like “reduced sodium,” “no salt added,” or “salt free"
        • When looking at the food label, any snack under 140mg is considered low-sodium
        • Be sure to check the serving size and avoid snacks with greater than 300mg of sodium
        • Season foods with fresh or dried herbs and spices
        • Steer clear of high-salt seasonings such as garlic, salt, lemon pepper, and Creole seasoning 
        How to get help with taking care of your heart

        To reduce your risk of heart disease, it is also vital to manage your blood sugar levels.

        Glucose Control is the only probiotic on the market that has been clinically proven to help reduce A1C levels and manage after-meal blood sugar spikes in people with type 2 diabetes.

        It's not always easy to make the right food choices, but by taking Glucose Control and following a gut-microbiome diet you're taking the right steps toward heart health.

        And just because we love a good gift for your gut, here's a yummy recipe for a heart-healthy, high-fiber breakfast smoothie:

        Pear-berry Smoothie: 
        ½ cup frozen + peeled avocado
        1 pear
        1 cup fresh spinach
        ½ cup almond milk
        ¼ cup blueberries
        1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
        ½ cup nonfat greek yogurt

        Combine all ingredients in a blender and enjoy.

        Hugs to you, your gut, and your heart this February (and beyond)!



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