It is essential for people with diabetes to eat a well-balanced diet to minimize blood sugar fluctuations and promote improved overall health. A new emphasis on foods rather than nutrients is designed to simplify the concept of healthy eating. Discover 3 cardio-protective foods that can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Healthy Eating

The concept of healthy eating often seems complicated and confusing, especially for people with diabetes who must watch what they eat. References to fat, carbohydrates, fiber, cholesterol and nutrients can become overwhelming. As a result, researchers have developed a cardio-protective diet to simplify the process of choosing the right foods rather than focusing on individual nutrients.

Whole Foods

Cardio Protective FoodsWhole foods are always healthier than processed ones. Opt for apples or a lean piece of grilled meat over packaged or prepared variations. This gives you more control over what you put in your body. Fewer calculations are required as whole foods often contain more pure nutrients without unwanted additives. Keep track of portion sizes and do not eat too much of anything. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of heart disease. Exercise regularly, including cardiovascular exercises such as walking, biking, swimming or other aerobic activities. Focus on healthy foods such as vegetables, fruit, good unsaturated fats, whole grains and low fat dairy.

Eat Your Veggies!

Work towards eating 4-7 servings of vegetables in your diet each day. One serving equals a cup of cut-up raw vegetables, leafy green vegetables, cooked vegetables or 100 percent vegetable juice. Vegetables to add to your diet include kale, spinach, carrots, peppers and onions. Starchy vegetables including peas, corn, beans and potatoes are not part of these servings. Also add 2-3 servings to fruit to your daily diet. A single serving can be a cup of frozen, unsweetened canned fruit or a medium-sized fresh fruit. Choose fruits with plenty of nutrients and antioxidants, such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, apples, grapes, avocado, oranges, mango and kiwi.

Beware of Refined Grain Products

Stay away from refined grain products, such as white bread, rice and pasta. Eat whole grains instead. Consume three or more servings daily depending on your diabetes control and weight. This may include one cup of high-fiber whole grain cereal, a cup of whole grain pasta, brown rice or 1 slice of multi- grain bread. Tasty and healthy choices include whole-wheat couscous, wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oats, barley and bulgur.

Fish and Shellfish

Add fish and shellfish to your diet. Include 2 or more servings to your meal plan per week. Be aware of mercury levels in certain types of large fish, such as tuna or swordfish. A single portion is 3.5 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards. Oily fish are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for your body. These include anchovies, trout, salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines.

Nuts and Seeds

There are other healthy foods to include in your diet. Have 4-5 servings of nuts each week. Have just a handful, or 1.75 ounces of nuts, per serving due to their high calorie content. Choose from walnuts, peanuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts. Have 2-3 servings of low-fat or nonfat dairy products, such as 1 cup of low fat milk, kefir or yogurt. Include 2-6 servings of healthy fats, or vegetable oils, to your daily diet. A single serving is 1 teaspoon of oil or 1 tablespoon of vegetable spread. Consider oils such as olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, soybean oil and safflower oil as well as spreads made with these vegetable oils.

Adding the right foods to your daily diet can help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels and lower your risk of heart disease. Include plenty of cardio-protective foods in your menu plan. These foods are tasty and can help reduce your risk of heart problems.

ADW Diabetes

ADW Diabetes is a diabetic supply mail order company that is dedicated to keeping diabetes management affordable. ADW takes a leading role in offering free diabetic education through Destination Diabetes, an informational component of the ADW website featuring tips and advice from diabetes and nutrition experts, diabetic recipes and more.