The Cardiac Diabetic Diet is a diet specially designed for individuals with a history of both heart disease as well as diabetes. As such, diabetics need to follow a highly disciplined dietary regimen in order to maintain their blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. This is also important in order to prevent development of diabetic complications that arise as a result of uncontrolled blood sugar. In case the diabetic individual exhibits any sign of cardiac abnormalities, a suitable diet becomes even more crucial taking into account the risks associated with both conditions. Both these conditions have serious health repercussions on the body. The lack of sufficient insulin production, or insulin resistance i.e. the body’s inability to suitably utilize this insulin; results in elevated blood glucose levels. This lays an additional load on the body’s capacity to utilize these sugars. Research shows that the risk of heart attack, stroke and associated cardiovascular complications is heightened over a period of time, especially in such cases. Thus a Cardiac Diabetic Diet limits intake of cholesterol, saturated fat, sodium as well as simple carbohydrates and plays a key role in reducing these risks. This eating plan created to help patients manage their cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels better has the following features.
Salient Features of Cardiac Diabetic Diet
- Low fat intake which includes total fat (by limiting oils, mayonnaise, hydrogenated fats), saturated fat (butter, red meat, cream, cheese) as well as trans fats (by limiting packaged snack foods, French fries, coconut)
- Low sodium intake by avoiding sauces, pickles, ketchup, baking soda, soy sauce, sausages
- Low cholesterol intake by avoiding whole milk, ice cream, egg yolks, organ meats. Mayo Clinic recommends reducing total cholesterol intake to less than 200 mg/day.
- Low sugar intake by avoiding all refined carbohydrates, like sugar, jelly, candy, cakes
- Restriction of portion sizes
- Adopting healthy cooking methods - steaming, grilling, braising, broiling, roasting, baking instead of frying.
- Eating at the same time each day - helps Diabetics avoid sharp fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
- Meal planning - to control intake of carbohydrate, cholesterol, sodium and fat is advisable as far as possible.
- Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels as well as lipid profile - will help assess the effectiveness of the cardiac diabetic diet.
Inclusions and Exclusions in Cardiac Diabetic Diet
- Fruits and vegetables should make up a large part of this diet as a source of fibre, vitamins and minerals as stressed by the American Heart Association. Fibre provides the feeling of satiety and helps maintain cholesterol levels under better control. Diabetics need to monitor carbohydrate intake even by way of fruits and vegetables to avoid excess intake.
- Fish, lean meats, beans and dairy products provide low-fat proteins. Minerals like calcium and iron as well as vitamins like D and E are obtained from these foods. The American Heart Association recommends fish intake a few times a week as they deliver essential fatty acids that are heart healthy nutrients.
- Whole grain cereals are not only high in fibre and low in calories but are fortified with essential nutrients. Both the American Heart Association as well as the American Diabetic Association encourage whole-grain consumption on a regular basis to stabilise cholesterol as well as blood sugar levels.
- Condiments and seasonings such as fresh and dried herbs and spices have numerous health benefits as part of Cardiac Diabetic Diet apart from adding flavour to meals. Lemon juice instead of salt, Tabasco, light soy sauce and sugar substitutes may be used.
- Use of unsalted nuts, unsalted fat free margarine, olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, rice bran oil in limited amounts is advisable.
Benefits of Cardiac Diabetic Diet
- Maintaining a healthy body weight,
- Controlling blood sugar levels, aiming for HbA1c level (test for long-term glucose control) below 7
- Regulating blood pressure levels to approximately 130/80 mmHg
- Lowering levels of bad cholesterol, LDL (between 70 – 100 mg/dl) and increasing good cholesterol, HDL (between 55-65 mg/dl) and hence overall lipid profile.