When you think of diabetes, you may not immediately think about its effect on your heart health — but you should.
People with diabetes have a two to four times greater risk of heart disease, per Johns Hopkins Medicine. And the condition is also linked to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
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Because of these risks, it's important for people with diabetes to manage their blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels. Thankfully, physical activity and a healthy diet that includes nutritious foods in moderate amounts can help.
Here, find tips and recipes for high cholesterol and diabetes that will help keep your numbers in a healthy range.
Diabetes-Friendly Diet Basics
Because diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar, a balanced, healthy diet for people with diabetes will be one that helps keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range, per the Mayo Clinic.
A diabetes-friendly diet will mean keeping a close eye on the carbohydrate-rich foods you eat, including baked goods, processed snacks and starchy foods like white bread, potatoes and rice.
While most people with diabetes aim to eat 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal, the American Diabetes Association says there is no magic number; your carb goal should be based on your individual needs.
Instead, aim to eat a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and limit processed baked goods.
Choose lean cuts of meat and low-fat and nonfat dairy foods to limit your intake of saturated fat, per UCSF Health.
Ultimately, breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes for people with diabetes and high cholesterol will keep the above elements in mind.
Breakfast Ideas for a Low-Cholesterol, Diabetes-Friendly Diet
When it comes to breakfast for people with diabetes and high cholesterol, you may try to eat at the same time each morning. Eating regularly and consistently will help control your hunger and help keep blood sugar from dropping too low, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which in turn can help keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check, per the Mayo Clinic.
Some breakfast meal ideas include the following, per the American Diabetes Association:
- Berry almond oatmeal: 1 cup of oatmeal with 1 cup of nonfat milk, blueberries and sliced almonds
- Yogurt parfait: 1 cup of plain, nonfat, sugar-free Greek yogurt with blueberries or strawberries; 2 slices of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter
- Egg and avocado toast: 2 poached eggs with a slice of whole-wheat toast and half a mashed avocado on top; small orange on the side
- Oat bran pancakes: 2 whole-grain pancakes with 2 tablespoons of light pancake syrup
Lunch Ideas for a Low-Cholesterol, Diabetes-Friendly Diet
Lunch is a perfect time to remember to include soluble fiber in your meals, with fruits like pears and oranges, which can help to lower blood cholesterol and slow digestion, allowing for a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream, per the Mayo Clinic.
As mentioned above, eating too many saturated fats can increase your blood cholesterol levels, and animal protein is one of the top sources of this fat. During lunch, try to include protein that is lean and dairy that is low-fat.
Some meal ideas include the following, per the American Diabetes Association and other sources:
- Seared tuna with avocado salsa verde: Try this recipe from Dishing Out Health served alongside a salad made with 2 cups mixed greens, a handful of walnuts, a sliced pear and low-fat dressing
- Hummus and veggie pita: Stuff a small whole-wheat pita with 1/4 cup hummus and vegetables, and serve it with one small orange and 1 cup of baby carrots, per the Heart Foundation
- Crunchy coleslaw turkey sandwich: Pile lean turkey on whole-wheat bread with mustard, slaw and tomato
- Grilled salmon and avocado salad: Top salad greens with 4 ounces of grilled salmon and sliced avocado, red onion and cucumber, and serve it with low-fat dressing and a small whole-wheat roll on the side
Dinner Ideas for a Low-Cholesterol, Diabetes-Friendly Diet
Meals to lower cholesterol and blood sugar will often include foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna and walnuts, per the Mayo Clinic. Dinner is a great time to incorporate these fats.
You could also incorporate soluble fiber in the form of grains or legumes (like barley, Brussels sprouts and kidney beans) with dinner meals, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Dinner meal ideas include the following, per the American Diabetes Association and other sources:
- Korean BBQ-inspired baked salmon: Serve 3 ounces of salmon with 1 cup of brown rice and 1 cup steamed broccoli
- Pecan-crusted turkey tenderloin with sweet potatoes: Enjoy 3 ounces of lean turkey with a baked sweet potato, Brussels sprouts and a dinner roll on the side
- Chicken and broccoli stir-fry: Sautée 3 ounces of chicken breast with broccoli or Brussels sprouts and serve with roasted potatoes or brown rice
- Turkey chili: Eating Bird Food has the recipe for 2 cups of chili made with kidney beans and lean turkey, served alongside a third of a cup of brown rice and a tossed salad
Managing your blood sugar and cholesterol are two important aspects to remaining healthy with diabetes.
Incorporating soluble fiber, omega-3s and lean protein into your diet while limiting saturated and trans fats can help you stabilize your blood sugar and cholesterol levels while helping you feel energetic and full throughout the day.
- Mayo Clinic: "Cholesterol: Top 5 Foods to Lower Your Number"
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Diabetes and Heart Disease"
- American Heart Association: "Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes"
- Mayo Clinic: "Diabetes Diet"
- American Diabetes Association: "Carb Counting and Diabetes"
- Mayo Clinic: "Top 5 lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol"
- UCSF Health: "Guidelines for a Low Cholesterol, Low Saturated Fat Diet"
- CDC: "Manage Blood Sugar"
- American Diabetes Association: "Sugar-Free Yogurt Parfait with Fresh Berries"
- American Diabetes Association: "Berry Almond Oatmeal"
- American Diabetes Association: "Egg and Avocado Toast"
- American Diabetes Association: "Oat Bran Pancakes"
- Dishing Out Health: "Seared Tuna with Avocado Salsa Verde"
- The Heart Foundation: "7-day meal plan to help lower cholesterol"
- Mayo Clinic: "Low-Sodium Chicken Stock"
- American Diabetes Association: "Crunchy Coleslaw Turkey Sandwich"
- American Diabetes Association: "Grilled Salmon and Avocado Salad"
- Cleveland Clinic: "31 High-Fiber Foods You Should Be Eating"
- American Diabetes Association: "Korean BBQ-Inspired Baked Salmon"
- American Diabetes Association: "Pecan Crusted Turkey Tenderloin with Sweet Potatoes"
- The Heart Foundation: "Chicken and Broccoli Stir-fry"
- Eating Bird Food: "Turkey Chili"