High blood sugar and cholesterol are conditions you can sometimes improve by eating a healthy diet. High blood sugar occurs when your pancreas does not produce the right amount of insulin. High cholesterol is when the levels of cholesterol in your blood are at unhealthy levels. If left untreated, both conditions can lead to serious health complications. Ask your doctor to monitor your efforts to control your levels through dieting.
Eating the correct amount of carbohydrates every day helps control and lower blood sugar. According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, counting carbohydrates affords you a wide choice of foods to eat, brings “tighter control over your glucose readings” and gives you the freedom to adjust how many carbohydrates you eat every meal. Count carbs by using a reference book, food-measuring equipment and reading food labels. Ask your dietician how many carbohydrates you are allowed each day and plan your food accordingly. Be consistent with your carbohydrate consumption each meal.
Low-glycaemic foods lower blood sugar by forcing your body to take longer to digest and process foods. This longer processing time gives your pancreas adequate time to produce insulin. In 2007, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that participants who ate a low-glycaemic diet had lower levels of blood sugar. Eat low-glycaemic foods like oatmeal, nuts and beans. Avoid high-glycaemic foods like white bread and doughnuts.
The Mediterranean diet focuses on plant-based eating. Christopher Gardener, researcher at Stanford University, in an interview with Adam Voiland of U.S. News & World Report, says this type of diet “is significantly better at lowering problematic cholesterol than a more conventional diet of prepared foods” because the foods you eat work together to lower your cholesterol levels. The Mediterranean diet consists of mainly grains, fruits, beans and vegetables and fruits. Eat small amounts of cheese, yoghurt and olive oil each day. Choose eggs, poultry and fish several times a week, and rarely eat red meat or sweets.
Low saturated fat diet
The American Heart Association recommends eating a diet low in saturated and trans fat to improve your cholesterol levels. If you need 2,000 calories a day to maintain your weight, eat only 170g (6oz) of cooked meat each day. Avoid meats high in saturated fat. Choose lean beef, pork and avoid prime cuts of meat. Grill or roast your meat and use a rack to drain the fat. Eat poultry and seafood regularly. Do not add salt to your foods, but instead use spices for seasoning. Substitute vegetarian meals for meat dishes several times a week. Exchange full-fat dairy products with reduced or fat free versions. Avoid processed foods.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Diabetes overview
- Joslin Diabetes Center: Carbohydrate counting 101
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Effects of a low–glycaemic load vs. low-fat diet in obese young adults
- U.S. News & World Report: Lowering LDL cholesterol without drugs
- Mayo Clinic: Mediterranean Diet: Choose this heart-healthy option