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.
Eat More Whole Grains
Conveniently enough, many pastas and breads have whole grain versions. The next time you’re shopping, reach for the whole grain pasta instead of the regular pasta.
Also, try replacing white rice with brown rice. You could also have whole grain couscous.
Eat More Fruits and Veggies
We know you’ve heard it before, but it’s true: you should eat your fruits and veggies. All the fiber in fruits and vegetables can help lower your cholesterol, so try to work more of them into your day.
For example, you could mix fruit into your yogurt for breakfast. You can snack on raw vegetables throughout the day. You can make it a point to shop your local farmers’ market (if you have one) to get seasonal produce.
Cook with Olive Oil
Instead of cooking with vegetable oil, cook with olive oil, which is a “healthy” fat. Olive oil has monounsaturated fats in it, which are healthier than saturated fat or trans fat.
Limit High Cholesterol Foods
The next 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!