Part VII – Diabetic Diet: Cholesterol and Protein

Curb Cholesterol

When you have excess circulating cholesterol, fatty deposits can develop in your blood vessels which can eventually harden into plaque and create the stiff, narrow arteries that are at high risk for rupture, blood clots, stroke and heart attack. People with diabetes must take extra care to limit saturated fat and cholesterol as they have more than twice the risk of developing heart disease than those without diabetes. To keep cholesterol under control, consume no more than 200 milligrams a day.

Ways to reduce cholesterol:

  • Use lean cuts and limit meat (beef, pork, lamb) to three-ounce portions, no more than three times a week
  • Choose egg substitutes such as Egg Beaters.
  • Opt for reduced fat milk over whole milk.
  • Choose lower fat cheeses such as part skim ricotta, farmer cheese, mozzarella, fat-free cream cheese, Swiss, feta and low-fat cottage cheese.
  • Avoid fatty foods like cheese pizza, rich casseroles and fast food.
  • Prepare your own food as much as possible as most restaurant meals are high in both fat and sodium.
  • Eat more legumes, nuts and other meat alternatives.

Have Fish Twice a Week

Fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 fats. These essential fatty acids are important for heart health and are part of a protective diet. Avoid batter-fried fish and fish with high levels of mercury, such as tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel.

Include Protein and Fiber with Every Meal and Snack

Make sure that your meals and snacks contain significant amounts of protein and fiber as both of these slow down the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream. This is important for keeping blood sugar stable and avoiding sharp fluctuations in glucose levels.

Consider, for example, a meal of white bread toast with jelly and a cup of tea for breakfast. There is very little protein or fiber in the meal. So, the simple carbohydrates in the jelly and the refined flour have nothing to hold them back from entering the bloodstream quickly, resulting in a dangerous spike in blood sugar.

On the other hand, if breakfast consists of whole-wheat toast with no-sugar fruit spread and an egg, that meal will be digested and absorbed over a much longer time, resulting in a slow, steady release of insulin. The slower digestion due to both the fiber and the egg protein also prolongs satiety so you don’t become hungry again near as quickly.

The ADA has devised a simple plate method for creating healthy meals:
fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter with lean protein, and the remaining fourth with complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa and beans. You may also add a piece of fruit and a glass of reduced-fat milk.

Click here for a list of sources.