Studies have reported that over 50% of diabetic patients develop cardiovascular diseases. This has been exemplified by the fact that diabetic patients are four times as likely to die of heart diseases as individuals without diabetes. While genetic risks associated with the onset of diabetes cannot be completely ruled out, progression of diabetes has a relatively stronger connection with the type of foods that are incorporated in your diet.
Therefore, being one of the primary risk factors of cardiovascular diseases, lifestyle changes that involve dietary modifications play a major role in bringing the levels of glucose, cholesterol, lipids and fats under control, thus help in reducing your chances of suffering from diabetes and its long-term health risks like heart diseases.
Hyperglycemia or elevated levels of blood glucose levels and hypertension are the two most prominent causative factors of coronary artery disease and hence the treatment of cardiovascular problems is most often directly related to dietary supplements that help in managing the symptoms of diabetes. Nutritious foods that do not raise cholesterol levels and are low in carbohydrate content serve as one of the best self-care measures for alleviating the symptoms of both, diabetes and atherosclerosis or the formation of plaque that blocks the flow of blood in the arteries of diabetic patients, eventually leading to the onset of cardiovascular diseases.
Dietary Guidelines for Diabetic Patients With Heart Disease
Diabetic patients are most often asked to restrict their intake of calories and consume foods that have a low content of fat and salt. However, the key to controlling the symptoms of diabetes and heart diseases is to include different varieties of food in your diet by cautiously limiting the portion size of the food.
In other words, one should consume every food in moderate quantities and distribute their intake of carbohydrates to 4-5 frequent and small meals every day. Read on to find out how you can design a diabetic friendly and heart healthy diet to lead a happy and healthy life.
Consumption of Foods Rich In Unsaturated Fats
Consumption of saturated fats found in animal derived foods except fish can rapidly increase the levels of lipids in blood serum and aggravate the symptoms of hyperlipidimea, a condition, which already exists in diabetic patients.
However, consumption of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids found in foods like fish, nuts like almonds, pistachios, pulses, avocados, olive oil, groundnut oil, safflower oil, flaxseeds, etc., in moderate quantities does not have a deleterious effect and may in fact speed up the metabolism of lipids and cholesterol in the body. Hence, diabetic patients have been recommended to limit their fat intake to 15% of the total calories consumed daily, to lower the risk of obesity, which can worsen the symptoms of diabetes and heart diseases.
Consumption of Complex Carbohydrates as Opposed to Simple Carbohydrates
Even though, carbohydrates are crucially important for providing you with sufficient energy to carry out your day to day activities, consumption of excess of simple carbohydrates found in jellies, jams, cookies, and sweets can place an extra burden on your pancreas to synthesize enough insulin for transporting the glucose into the cells from the blood.
Consequently, the cells develop resistance to the excess of insulin produced, thus leading to a condition called hyperinsulinaemia. Excess of insulin causes hyperlipidimea and promotes the aggregation of platelets in blood vessels, which is the basic underlying mechanism for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disorders.
On the other hand, consumption of complex carbohydrates found in low glycemic index foods like all-bran cereals, brown rice, pulses, fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables break down at a very slow rate and release glucose at definite intervals, without affecting insulin levels in the blood. In fact, complex carbohydrates in combination with fiber have been found to improve insulin sensitivity, thus lowering the risk of diabetes and heart diseases.
Consumption of Foods Enriched with Fiber
Besides aiding in speeding up the process of digestion in the body, dietary fiber also helps in satiating your appetite, thus allowing you to curb your craving for sugar laden foods. Soluble fiber found in vegetables, fruits, oatmeal, beans, dried peas, legumes and pulses is considered more effective for lowering blood glucose levels than insoluble fiber that is found in cereals, wheat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, millets and dark leafy vegetables.
Soluble fiber also helps in lowering the levels of low density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol in the body. As per the recommendations of the American Dietetic Association, one should consume at least 20 to 30 g of fiber per day. However, make sure that you increase your intake of water when you include foods rich in fiber in your diet, to avoid constipation.
Consumption of Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Antioxidants play a pivotal role in eliminating harmful free radicals from the body that otherwise accumulate in the body and cause considerable damage to the cells. Building up of these free radicals in the arteries damages the cells lining its walls and paves way to atherosclerosis, which in turn, places a diabetic patient at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Many research studies have provided substantial evidence on the decrease in the risk of developing heart diseases by about 20% in people who manage to obtain antioxidants through a range of different foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains on a daily basis, than those who do not consume foods packed with antioxidants. Dietary sources of antioxidants include citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, kiwi, pineapples, strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, hazelnuts, artichokes, beans, dark chocolate, etc.
Considering the high prevalence of heart diseases among diabetic patients, it is important for diabetics to maintain a control on dietary factors, which directly connects hyperglycemia with the accumulation of cholesterol and lipids in the body and the subsequent onset of heart diseases.
Hence, besides avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, smoking and consumption of alcohol, nutrition plays a major role in managing and preventing various risk factors like diabetes, obesity, hypertension and hyperlipidimea, which in turn, lowers your risk of developing heart diseases. Nevertheless, it is important to consult a nutritionist or a medical practitioner before you begin a diet plan to avoid overindulgence in certain foods and their impact on your health.