4 Tips for Eating Well with High Cholesterol

Diabetes, High Cholesterol, and Diet

Written by Kamiah A. Walker

Here’s some good news:  it doesn’t take a huge effort to start making heart-healthy food decisions.  Especially when you have diabetes and high cholesterol, watching your diet is critical.

There are changes you can make to what you eat every day.  We recommend that you talk to a certified diabetes educator or registered dietitian about changing how you eat.  They can work with you to create a meal plan that is delicious, flexible (you won’t always be eating the same thing), and healthy—for both your heart and your diabetes.

In the meantime, here are 4 tips to help you eat well when you have high cholesterol.

Trade Milled Grains for Whole Grains
White rice, and baked goods, breads, and pasta made with white flour are best avoided since the body reacts to these processed grains like sugar. What's missing from white rice and flour is the dietary fiber, which helps to keep blood sugar from rising so quickly. These days, there are many versions of pasta and breads made with fiber-rich whole wheat flour and other whole grains such as spelt, barley, and oats. Better yet, there are now pastas made with lentil flour, black bean flour, or chickpea flour. All of these pasta products have the same texture and taste as you might expext from usual pastas, but they are higher in plant protein and fiber so they are an easy and desirable alternative for anyone looking to either avoid wheat and/or choose diabetes-friendlier foods. The next time you’re shopping, try any pasta iin place of the regular white pasta. Oats can be made into flour and offers a more heart-healthy option for baking; try making an oat flour Belgiun waffle. You won't every look back!

Also, try replacing white rice with brown rice.  You could also have whole grain couscous and quinoa, a high protein grain that can be substituted instead of rice.

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
We know you’ve heard it before, but it’s true:  you should eat plenty of fruits and veggies.  All the dietary fiber in fruits and vegetables can help lower your blood cholesterol, increase your sense of fullness, and reduces the risks for many types of cancer, too. So try to build your meals around the fruits and vegetables, aiming for 5 to 9 servings daily 

For example, you could mix fruit into plain yogurt and top with chopped walnuts for breakfast.  You can snack on raw vegetables throughout the day or dip them in hummus to make a meal.  During the warmer months, enjoy making a trip to your local farmers’ market to buy seasonal produce.

Cook with Olive Oil or Avocado Oil
Instead of cooking with vegetable oils, switch to using olive oil or avocado oil, which contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.  The goal is to avoid butter, which has saturated fats, or products made with trans fat—partically hydronated fatty acids( ie, stick margarine).

Don't Confuse High Cholesterol Foods with High Blood Cholesterol 
Science has evolved so that we now know that foods that are high in dietary cholesterol, like egg yolk, do not cause our blood cholesterol to rise. Actually, its foods high in saturated fats, particularly butter, chicken skin, and beef that push our "bad" blood cholesterol—low density lipoprotein time you’re at the store, make it a point to read the food label of everything before you put it in the cart.  Choose foods that are low cholesterol—or even no cholesterol!  The Nutrition Facts label will be incredibly helpful to you as you learn what foods are high cholesterol or high fat.

You can also limit your dietary cholesterol (how much cholesterol you get from what you eat) by cutting back on egg yolks (use egg substitute or just egg whites) and high-fat meats and poultry.

The High Cholesterol and Diabetes “Diet”
You may have negative associations with the word “diet”—thinking that it means you can never have anything flavorful again and that you’ll be eating bland (but healthy!) food for the rest of your life, just because you want to take care of your heart and blood glucose levels.

This isn’t true:  eating well when you have high cholesterol and diabetes (diabetic hyperlipidemia) doesn’t have to be a dull affair.  You will need to change how you eat, yes, but whole grains, healthy oils, fruits and vegetables, and a little creativity in the kitchen will help you eat delicious meals—that work on keeping your heart healthy!