High cholesterol and diabetes are two of the biggest health concerns in the United States today. People with high cholesterol face an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Learning natural ways to control cholesterol when you have diabetes can help ward off additional health problems. Always check with your health care provider to make sure you are doing the right thing concerning cholesterol.
- The first step toward lowering cholesterol is getting to know your own body. Talk to your physician about having your cholesterol and blood sugar measured at a lab on a regular basis. Use a glucometer to test your blood sugar regularly. Keep track of the results to share with your doctor during regular visits. Report blood sugar fluctuations to your health care team right away. Take medications or insulin as prescribed. Drugs prescribed for cholesterol can raise your blood sugar levels. Test your blood sugar often if you take these medications. Never stop taking your prescription medication without checking with your physician.
- Talk to a dietitian or diabetes educator about healthy eating habits to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels. There are natural ways to control cholesterol rather than taking medication. Obesity is a factor in developing type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. If you are overweight, lose weight to decrease your cholesterol level and get better control of your blood sugar. Even losing 5 to 10 percent of your current body weight can make a big difference. Steer clear of fad diets that can make your blood glucose get out of control. Stick to a healthy diet with green, leafy vegetables, good sources of protein such as lean meats and low fat dairy as well as whole grains and fruit. Ward off temptation when you go out by keeping sugar free candy in your pocket or handbag. Indulge in small amounts.
- Exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. This is a natural way to lower cholesterol or blood sugar levels. It helps you maintain a healthy weight and reduces stress. Low impact exercises include brisk walking, swimming and yoga. Burn fat fast by jogging or taking an aerobics class such as Zumba dancing. Exercise helps to lower “bad” cholesterol referred to as LDL. It can also raise HDL, the “good” cholesterol, by up to 10 percent. If you smoke, it is time to quit. Smoking can lower HDL levels and cause heart disease.
- Eat insoluble fiber to improve your digestion and get essential nutrients. Food that is high in insoluble fiber can give you bulk to ward off hunger and make you feel more satisfied. This is a great way to avoid overeating. Insoluble fiber is found in green leafy vegetables as well as eggplant, turnips and cauliflower. You can also find this type in fiber whole-grain bread as well as beans, nuts and lentils. For a sweet treat with insoluble fiber try fruits such as apples and berries. Add them to a smoothie for breakfast or a snack. Make sure to watch portion size.
- Eat foods with soluble fiber to raise your good cholesterol and help flush out bad cholesterol from your blood. Soluble fiber turns into a gel-like substance that also speeds your digestion. Soluble fiber is found in unprocessed oats, chia seeds and peas. It is also in barley, beans and pears. Add vegetables to your casseroles and stir-fries, including green beans and mushrooms, to boost your intake of soluble fiber.
- Steer clear of foods with trans- fats, which raise the LDL cholesterol in your blood, including cake, cookies and dough-nuts especially those found in bags. Have a bowl of oatmeal topped with berries and cinnamon for a sweet and satisfying treat. Also reduce saturated fats found in certain dairy products and red meat. Choose lean meats such as chicken and turkey without the skin. Opt for low-fat milk or reduced fat dairy products. Add fatty fish to your diet two to three times per week. Fish and fish oil contain omega-3 fatty acids to help lower cholesterol and offer healthy heart benefits. Salmon, mackerel and anchovies are high in omega-3s. Nuts such as almonds and walnuts can help lower cholesterol. Add a handful to your diet each day but limit your intake because nuts are also high in calories. Stick to salt free nuts.
Making healthy choices are a positive lifestyle change rather than a diet when you have diabetes. Controlling your cholesterol naturally can also eliminate the need to take medications that may cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate. Eating right and exercising are important ways to control cholesterol and boost your overall well-being.