Diet plays a crucial role in the management of diabetes. Not only can the right foods help control your blood sugar, but they can also minimize your risk of heart attack and stroke. One important component in keeping your diabetes under control is to eat healthy fats such as those found in nuts. To understand the benefits of incorporating nuts into your diet, you first need to understand the relationship between diabetes, cholesterol and fats.
Chances are, you have heard of cholesterol at some point or another in your life. This fat-like substance is found throughout the body and plays a number of key roles. For instance, it is involved in the production of hormones and vitamin D. It also plays a part in the process of digesting food. Cholesterol is not only made by your body but can also be found in many of the foods that you eat.
There are two primary types of cholesterol. The first type is LDL cholesterol. Popularly known as "bad" cholesterol, this type of cholesterol can build up on the inside of your arteries when levels become too high. This can increase the risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke.
The other type of cholesterol is HDL cholesterol. Often referred to as "good" cholesterol, this type of cholesterol can help prevent LDL cholesterol from building up in your arteries.
According to the American Heart Association, diabetes lowers levels of good cholesterol while, at the same time, raising levels of bad cholesterol. This, in turn, dramatically increases the risk of developing problems with high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke.
Fortunately, you can help minimize these risks by eating the right types of fats. Saturated fats and trans fats can raise LDL cholesterol levels. Because of this, they should be avoided whenever possible. While this is true for everyone, it is especially true for people who suffer from diabetes. Foods that are high in saturated fat include rich dairy products such as whole milk, butter and cream as well as fatty meats such as beef and pork.
Trans fats, on the other hand, are generally found in processed foods such as snacks or baked goods. They are also common in baking ingredients such as shortening or sticks of margarine. Avoiding these types of foods as much as possible can help keep LDL cholesterol levels in check.
At the same time, you can help boost HDL cholesterol levels by eating foods that contain "healthy" fats. These fats include monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can obtain all of these different types of fats from nuts. For instance, almonds, pecans, and cashews are high in monounsaturated fats, whereas walnuts are high in both omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats.
Adding more nuts into your diet can help you gain better control over your diabetes. However, before you get carried away, it is also important to monitor your daily caloric intake. Nuts tend to be extremely high in calories. Just be sure to take that into account when planning your snacks and meals so that you don't consume too many calories. After all, maintaining the proper body weight also plays a key part in controlling diabetes. The last thing you want is to inadvertently gain weight by adding too many nuts to your diet.
Ideally, you should meet with a nutritionist to discuss your diet. They can help you find ways to incorporate nuts into your meal plans without exceeding your daily calorie goals. That way, you can benefit from all of the healthy fats that these nuts have to offer without running the risk of gaining weight.
About the AuthorLouis Venter is the creator diabetescoop.com, a website devoted to providing support and on-topic, frequently updated information for diabetics and those in their support network.