If you’ve recently been diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, the prescription for what ails you may lie on the produce aisle instead of the pharmacy. “From a clinical perspective, we do recommend diets based on somebody’s condition,” Donald Hensrud, M.D., told The Washington Post. Dr. Hensrud, an internal medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic who wrote the book on healthy eating, says it’s more important to focus on eating the right things rather than simply avoiding the wrong ones. “We’re not telling people what not to eat,” he said.
So what should you eat to manage those common chronic conditions or avoid developing them in the first place? We checked with our friends at mayoclinic.org to find out.
To lower your cholesterol and keep your heart healthy, think fiber, fish and Little Miss Muffet. Specifically:
- Eat more foods high in soluble fiber, such as apples, kidney beans and oatmeal.
- Add fish—specifically salmon, mackerel or herring—to your diet to get more omega-3 fatty acids. (If you’re not a fish fan, walnuts and flaxseeds are also good sources of omega-3s.)
- Think “Yes way.” (Ahem, whey.) Whey protein, which is found in dairy products, may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy. Studies have shown whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure. Speaking of which …
High blood pressure
“Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure,” according to Mayo Clinic.
If you have or are at risk of developing diabetes, it’s not just what you eat but when that matters. A diabetes diet is based on eating three meals a day at regular times. Those meals should include:
- Healthy carbohydrates, such as fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
- High-fiber foods, which are also the stars of the healthy carb list above.
- Heart-healthy fish. (Think the same swimmers that help lower cholesterol.)
- Small amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in nuts, olive oil and avocados.