Diabetes: Eating Right (cont.)

Since diabetes increases your risk of developing heart disease, eating foods lower in fat -- especially saturated fat -- is particularly important to keep that risk as low as possible. In addition, limiting calories from fat can help you lose any extra weight, especially when combined with an exercise program.

The major contributors of saturated fats in our diet come from cheese, beef, milk and baked items. Transfats also contribute to the increase risk of heart disease. These fats are vegetables oils that are harder; we recognize these as solid oils -- lards, margarines etc. Many of these are used in baking and frying.

Here are some general guidelines for selecting and preparing low-fat foods:

  • Select lean meats including poultry, fish, and lean red meats. When preparing these foods, don't fry them. Instead, you can bake, broil, grill, roast or boil.
  • Select low-fat dairy products such as low-fat cheese, skim milk and products made from skim milk such as nonfat yogurt, nonfat frozen yogurt, evaporated skim milk, and buttermilk. Remember to include dairy products in your daily carbohydrate count.
  • Use low-fat vegetable cooking spray when preparing foods or consider using cholesterol lowering margarine containing stanols or sterols. Examples include "Take Control" and "Benecol."
  • Use liquid vegetable oils that contain poly- or monounsaturated fats which can help lower your 'bad' LDL cholesterol.
  • Select lower fat margarines, gravies and salad dressings and remember to watch the carbohydrate count on condiments and dressings.
  • All fruits and vegetables are good low-fat choices. Remember to include fruit and starchy vegetables in your daily carbohydrate count.

A registered dietitian can provide more information on how to prepare and select low-fat foods.

Understanding Salt

Diabetes increases your risk for high blood pressure. High levels of sodium (salt) in your diet can further increase that risk. Your health care provider or dietitian may ask you to limit or avoid these high-sodium foods:

  • Salt and seasoned salt (or salt seasonings)
  • Boxed mixes of potatoes, rice or pasta
  • Canned meats
  • Canned soups and vegetables (with sodium)
  • Cured or processed foods
  • Ketchup, mustard, salad dressings, other spreads and canned sauces
  • Packaged soups, gravies or sauces
  • Pickled foods
  • Processed meats: lunch meat, sausage, bacon and ham
  • Olives
  • Salty snack foods
  • Monosodium glutamate or MSG (often added to Chinese food)
  • Soy and steak sauces

Low-Sodium Cooking Tips

  • Use fresh ingredients and/or foods with no salt added.
  • For favorite recipes, you may need to use other ingredients and eliminate or decrease the salt you would normally add.
  • Try orange or pineapple juice as a base for meat marinades.
  • Avoid convenience foods such as canned soups, entrees and vegetables; pasta and rice mixes; frozen dinners; instant cereal; and pudding, gravy and sauce mixes.
  • Select frozen entrees that contain 600 milligrams or less of sodium. However, limit yourself to one of these frozen entrees per day. Check theNutrition Facts label on the package for sodium content.
  • Use fresh, frozen, no-added-salt canned vegetables or canned vegetables that have been rinsed before they are prepared.
  • Low-sodium canned soups may be used.
  • Avoid mixed seasonings and spice blends that include salt, such as garlic salt.

What Seasonings Can Replace Salt?

Herbs and spices are the answer to improving the natural flavors in food without using salt. Below are some mixtures to use for meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, soups, and salads.

Spicy Blend
2 tablespoons dried savory, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon curry powder

Saltless Surprise
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon powdered lemon rind or dehydrated lemon juice

Herb Seasoning
2 tablespoons dried dill weed or basil leaves, crumbled
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crumbled
A pinch of freshly ground pepper

Spicy Seasoning
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon coriander seed (crushed)
1 tablespoon rosemary

Reviewed by Certified Diabetes Educators in the Department of Patient Education and Health Information and by physicians in the Department of Endocrinology at The Cleveland Clinic.

Edited by Cynthia Haines, MD, WebMD, September 2005.

Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2005

Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005 5:30:49 AM