5 Heart-Healthy Foods for People with Diabetes, As recommended by a clinical nutritionist

A person with diabetes has a 2-4 times increased risk of cardiovascular issues. Therefore, for anyone with diabetes, it becomes important to inculcate healthy habits that can avert the risk before developing severe complications like a heart attack or stroke, says clinical nutritionist and health coach Apoorva Joshi.

 Simple habits like including a serving of heart-healthy foods daily can substantially reduce the risk of heart disease. These foods not only help in reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues but also show promising benefits for better glycemic control and metabolic health. Here are 5 such foods that we can include daily:

1. Seeds: Seeds like flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc. are a powerhouse of nutrients. They're a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids (i.e. good fats), fiber, calcium, plant sterols, and many other nutrients which help in reducing inflammation, cholesterol and improving blood sugar control.

Ways to eat: Plain roasted as a snack, As chutneys, Topping for salads or soups, Addition to smoothies 

2. Oats: Oats are a grain rich in a fiber called beta-glucan which helps in lowering cholesterol, improving blood sugar control, and alleviating constipation. They are also known to be a rich source of minerals and antioxidants that support heart health. A person with diabetes should prefer eating steel-cut or rolled oats that have a lower glycemic index as compared to instant oats.

Ways to eat: Porridge, Upma, DosaChilla, Granola, etc.

3. Soy: Soy products are rich in isoflavones that are known to reduce cardiovascular risk. It is also known to reduce LDL cholesterol. Soy has the best quality plant protein, calcium, potassium, and other nutrients that support heart health. For a person with diabetes, it can become a great low-carb option that provides a high level of satiety owing to its fiber and protein content.

Ways to eat: Soya atta for rotis and dosas, Tofu in stir-fries, Soy milk, Whole soybean curry, Soya chunks or granules

4. Pulses: Pulses contain a good amount of fiber, potassium, protein, and antioxidants that are known to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. A cup of pulses eaten daily has also proven to improve post-meal blood sugars and lipid control which in the long term leads to better metabolic health.

Ways to eat: Curries, Salads, Soups, etc.

5. Green leafy veggies: These are rich in nitrates which help in lowering blood pressure. They are also a good source of fiber, vitamin B, and a variety of other nutrients. A cup of leafy vegetables eaten daily significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Ways to eat: Sabzi, Stir-fries, Salads, Soups, etc.

About the Author:

Apoorva Joshi is a clinical nutritionist who is the founder of Unbox Nutrition. Under this brand, she offers personalized nutrition programs, corporate wellness programs, and nutrition consulting for various food brands. She is also a diabetes educator and has helped 100+ clients in effectively managing their prediabetes or diabetes. She is a foodie herself and helps people enjoy their favorite foods while they pursue good health.