Some of the same foods that can help you lower your cholesterol levels may also help you keep your blood sugar under control. Including these foods as part of a heart-healthy diet may potentially decrease your need for medications for diabetes and high cholesterol. In general, you'll want to limit the amount of refined, processed foods you consume and eat more whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Fill Up on Fiber
Study participants who followed a diet with about 30 grams per day of fiber, including 4 grams of soluble fiber, for three months experienced decreases of about 12 percent in both their cholesterol and blood sugar levels, according to an article in "Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice" in July 2004. Increase your soluble fiber intake by eating foods such as oatmeal, flaxseed, beans, Brussels sprouts, oranges, pears, peaches, plums, strawberries, apricots, apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, broccoli and asparagus.
Spice It Up
Adding spices to your foods may help you lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. A preliminary study using rats, published in "The Journal of Nutrition" in March 2006, found that raw garlic may help lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels, although boiled garlic didn't have the same beneficial effect. Another animal study, published in "Pharmacognosy Research" in 2012, found that cinnamon may also cause decreases in blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In a study published in the "Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition" in January 2009, people who took supplements containing 1 to 3 grams of bay leaves per day for 30 days improved their cholesterol, triglyceride and blood sugar levels. Also, the University of Maryland Medical Center notes that the spice turmeric, commonly used in curries, may also improve your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The Chromium Connection
A mineral called chromium may be beneficial for decreasing your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, notes MedlinePlus. Adult men need about 35 micrograms per day, and women need about 25 micrograms per day for good health. The typical dosage used in people with diabetes is between 200 to 1,000 micrograms per day. It would be hard to get this much chromium from food alone because most foods only provide small amounts of this trace mineral. Broccoli, turkey, beef, whole-wheat bread, red wine, orange or grape juice, potatoes, garlic, basil, green beans, apples and bananas all provide some chromium.
Switch Your Sugars
Eating sugary foods can increase your blood sugar levels. The type of sugar you consume, however, can affect how much your blood sugar levels increase. A study published in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" in 2004 found that honey increased blood sugar levels less than table sugar and that consuming honey may also help improve your cholesterol levels.
- HelpGuide.org: Heart Healthy Diet Tips
- Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice: Effect of Soluble Fiber Intake in Lipid and Glucose Levels in Healthy Subjects: A Randomized Clinical Trial
- Harvard University Health Services: Fiber Content of Foods in Common Portions
- Journal of Nutrition: Including Garlic in the Diet May Help Lower Blood Glucose, Cholesterol, and Triglycerides
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Turmeric
- Pharmacognosy Research: Effects of Cinnamomum Zeylanicum (Ceylon Cinnamon) on Blood Glucose and Lipids in a Diabetic and Healthy Rat Model
- Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition: Bay Leaves Improve Glucose and Lipid Profile of People with Type 2 Diabetes
- MedlinePlus: Chromium
- Journal of Medicinal Food: Natural Honey Lowers Plasma Glucose, C-Reactive Protein, Homocysteine, and Blood Lipids in Healthy, Diabetic, and Hyperlipidemic Subjects: Comparison With Dextrose and Sucrose
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Chromium