There’s a great variety of tasty and healthy food and drink available to buy inside competition venues. The food offering caters for all cultural and dietary requirement, including dishes suitable for people following Halal, kosher, vegetarian , vegan and gluten-free diets.
Cholesterol and CVD
Reducing the proportion of fat in your diet, especially saturated fat, can help to reduce blood cholesterol levels. There’s a strong link between high blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. For those who don’t have CVD or aren’t considered to be at high-risk of CVD, normal blood cholesterol levels are below 5mmol/litre. This can be measured by your GP. People with average energy needs should aim to consume no more than 70g/day of fat and less than 20g/day of saturated fat.
Trans-fatty acids are a particular kind of fat that are naturally occurring in meat and dairy products but may also be produced when plant-based oils are hydrogenated to produce solid spreads, such as margarines. They’re often found in confectionery and processed food like pastry, biscuits and cakes. They’ve been found to have the same effect on cholesterol levels as saturated fat and should be avoided as much as possible. Thankfully, many manufacturers have now modified processing techniques to keep these fats to a minimum. Check labels for hydrogenated fats.
When reducing total fat, it’s important not to cut out the heart healthy fats from your diet including mono and poly-unsaturated fats and omega-3, mostly found in plant and fish oils.
How to modify your fat intake:
- Use butter and other spreads sparingly
- Choose lean cuts of meat or trim fat off
- Grill, bake or steam food rather than frying
- Swap saturated fats such as butter for unsaturated oils such as sunflower, rapeseed or olive oil
- Limit your intake of trans-fats from processed food
- Eat two to three portions of oily fish each week (e.g. sardines, mackerel, fresh tuna, salmon)
Essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids such as omega-3s, which are found in oily fish, have been shown to reduce the risk of CVD by lowering blood triglycerides, reducing blood clotting and regulating heart rhythm. For general heart health, try to eat two portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily.
Stanols and sterols
Certain plant-derived compounds, called stanol or sterol esters have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. Spreads, yoghurts, drinks and soya ‘dairy alternatives’ are now available containing these products. These sterol enriched foods may be particularly useful for those with raised blood cholesterol which has remained elevated even after making other dietary changes. Clinical trials show that when used regularly, they can reduce high cholesterol levels.
Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are rich in many essential nutrients including vitamins C and E and carotenoids (which are all antioxidants). They may help to protect the heart by limiting the damaging effects of cholesterol on body tissues. Aim for at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. (See the Fruit and Vegetables article for more information on what a serving is.)
Wholegrains and fibre
Studies of large groups of people in the US have shown that diets rich in wholegrain food can reduce the risk of CVD by up to 30 per cent. You can include wholegrain food in every meal by choosing wholemeal bread and wholegrain varieties of pasta and rice.
Soluble dietary fibre, found in oats, beans and pulses, can help to lower LDL cholesterol. These foods should be included as part of an overall healthy balanced diet, at least two to three times each week.
A diet that includes at least 25g of soya per day has been associated with reductions in LDL cholesterol and CVD. Soya isoflavones in particular have been shown to reduce CVD risk as they inhibit the growth of cells that form artery-clogging plaque. Soya protein is also an excellent substitute for meat and is available in a convenient and tasty form in many ready-made meals. Another good source of soya protein is soya milk and yoghurt.
The British Heart Foundation has an excellent range of resources giving information about reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Rest and relaxation
While exercise can help lower blood pressure and strengthen your heart, rest and relaxation can reduce your levels of anxiety and improve your reactions to stress – both of which can affect the blood vessels and heart. All of us have to contend with major life events from time to time such as a divorce, bereavement, job loss or financial problems. However, there’s also a wide range of everyday events (being stuck in traffic, a row with your partner or a disagreement with someone at work) that can be stressful – and these everyday irritations may be even more stressful because they are constant.
Ways to manage stress
- Keep a diary: make a note of stressful situations and how your react to them. This will help you identify what stresses you out, so you can begin to change your reactions.
- Stay positive: your thoughts control your feelings. If you stop and listen to your emotions, you may be surprised to discover how negative they are. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones will help you deal with stressful situations more calmly.
- Learn to relax: pay attention to your posture and consciously relax physically. You may also want to try a technique such as yoga, massage, meditation or other complementary therapies.
- Get as much sleep as you need: we all need different amounts of sleep and you will know how many you need to feel refreshed. Try to get this amount of sleep most nights.
Smoking and alcohol
Smoking and drinking are both linked with heart disease. But while there are no potential health benefits from smoking, moderate drinking can help to protect your heart.
One of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease is to stop smoking. Smokers younger than 50 are five times more likely than non-smokers to die of coronary heart disease. By stopping, you not only lower your risk of heart disease but also help reduce your risk of lung diseases such as cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The key to successful quitting is to pick a method that’s right for you. For example, if you’re motivated by other people and enjoy their company, you may find encouragement and support by joining a group.
If you prefer to go it alone, you may find it helpful to buy a book or tape. Your GP can prescribe aids such as nicotine replacement therapy or, alternatively, you may benefit from a complementary therapy such as acupuncture.
Consuming moderate amounts of alcohol – between one and two units a day – has been found to reduce the risk of CVD. Alcohol can increase HDL cholesterol and makes it less likely that clots will form. However, high intakes of alcohol are associated with increased risk. It’s also worth noting that saving up your weekly units for a weekend binge doesn’t offer the same benefits.
There’s no need to give up alcohol altogether but it’s important to drink sensibly.
Always eat when you drink: take a tip from the Mediterranean countries and always have a meal or snack when you drink alcohol. Know your limits: To reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, don’t exceed 1-2 units of alcohol a day. A unit is equal to half a pint of regular strength beer or lager, one small glass of wine or a small (pub measure) of spirits. Watch your glass size: it’s easy to exceed safe limits by using a bigger glass.
Mix and match: if you’re at a party or drinking socially, try to have a non-alcoholic drink for every alcoholic drink you consume. Once you’ve consumed your daily units, drink only soft or non-alcoholic drinks.
People should also have regular blood pressure readings, height and weight monitoring, and tests for cholesterol levels. Those with high levels should be encouraged to improve their diet and can be treated for poor cholesterol levels with drugs – usually, statins or niacins.
The American Heart Association recommends that blood pressure should be no more than 140 over 90 Hg. The association recommends a series of diets, with no more than 30% of calories coming in the form of fats, and limiting calories in the form of saturated fats to between 7 and 10%.
Risk factors for CVD
Some risk factors for CVD are potentially reversible or can be modified. These include:
- Cigarette smoking
- Increased levels of LDL cholesterol
- High triglycerides (caused by the build up of fats derived from foods eaten or made in the body from other energy sources)
- Low HDL cholesterol
- Being overweight
- Large waist circumference (being ‘apple-shaped’)
- High blood pressure
Diet and CVD
Making small changes to your diet is one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce your risk of CVD. You can do this by:
- Reducing fat in your diet, especially saturated and trans-fats
- Eating more fruit and vegetables, wholegrain food and soluble fibre
- Drinking alcohol in moderation
- Reducing salt to maintain a lower blood pressure
How Can I Soften Callused Feet?
Calluses are common on the heels and balls of the feet. The thick layers of dead skin are there to protect your feet from the pressure of walking. But you may not like the sight of rough, yellowish heels peeking out of your sandals. Soaking your feet in hot water and scrubbing with a pumice stone can remove some of the dead skin.
Why Do I Have Bad Breath?
You brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily, yet you still have a bad taste in your mouth — a sign of bad breath. The cause could be gum disease, acid reflux, dry mouth, or even a sinus infection. But most likely, your diet is the culprit. Toothpaste is no match for heaps of onions and garlic. See if avoiding these foods helps. If not, check with your dentist.
Gaining or carrying excess weight means that your heart must work harder, and this often leads to high blood pressure—a major cause of heart disease. Achieving a healthy body weight is key to reducing your risk of heart disease. Reducing portion sizes is a crucial step toward losing or maintaining a healthy weight. Try the following tactics to control your portion sizes:
- Understand serving sizes. A serving size is a specific amount of food, defined by common measurements such as cups, ounces, or pieces—and a healthy serving size may be a lot smaller than you’re used to. The recommended serving size for pasta is ½ cup, while a serving of meat, fish, or chicken is 2 to 3 ounces. Judging serving size is a learned skill, so you may need to use measuring cups, spoons, and a food scale to help.
- Eyeball it. Once you have a better idea of what a serving should be, you can estimate your portion. You can use common objects for reference; for example, a serving of pasta should be about the size of a baseball (slightly smaller than a cricket ball), while a serving of meat, fish, or chicken is about the size and thickness of a deck of cards.
- Beware of restaurant portions. Portions served in restaurants are often more than anyone needs. Split an entrée with your dining companion, or take half your meal home for tomorrow’s lunch.
A diet high in fiber can lower “bad” cholesterol and provide nutrients that can help protect against heart disease. By filling up on whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, you can get most of the fiber you’ll need, which means you’ll also be lowering your risk of heart disease.
Go for whole grains
Refined or processed foods are lower in fiber content, so make whole grains an integral part of your diet. There are many simple ways to add whole grains to your meals.
- Breakfast better. For breakfast choose a high-fiber breakfast cereal—one with five or more grams of fiber per serving. Or add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite cereal.
- Try a new grain. Experiment with brown rice, wild rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta, and bulgur. These alternatives are higher in fiber than their more mainstream counterparts—and you may find you love their tastes.
- Bulk up your baking. When baking at home, substitute whole-grain flour for half or all of the white flour, since whole-grain flour is heavier than white flour. In yeast breads, use a bit more yeast or let the dough rise longer. Try adding crushed bran cereal or unprocessed wheat bran to muffins, cakes, and cookies.
- Add flaxseed. Flaxseeds are small brown seeds that are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your total blood cholesterol. You can grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor and stir a teaspoon of them into yogurt, applesauce, or hot cereal.
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
Most fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber, making them heart healthy. You can use some of the following strategies to make eating fruits and veggies part of your diet every day.
- Keep fruit and vegetables at your fingertips. Wash and cut fruit and veggies and put them in your refrigerator for quick and healthy snacks. Choose recipes that feature these high-fiber ingredients, like veggie stir-fries or fruit salad.
- Incorporate veggies into your cooking. Add pre-cut fresh or frozen vegetables to soups and sauces. For example, mix chopped frozen broccoli into prepared spaghetti sauce or toss fresh baby carrots into stews.
- Don’t leave out the legumes. Legumes are fiber-rich, too. Eat more beans, peas, and lentils. Add kidney beans to canned soup or a green salad.
- Make snacks count. Fresh and dried fruit, raw vegetables, and whole-grain crackers are all good ways to add fiber at snack time. An occasional handful of nuts is also a healthy, high-fiber snack.
It’s very difficult to eat right for your heart when you’re eating out a lot, ordering in, or eating microwave dinners and other processed foods. The good news is that you can learn to make quick, heart healthy meals at home. It’s easier and less time-consuming than you may think.
Heart-healthy grocery shopping and stocking
Creating a heart-friendly diet starts with stocking your fridge with healthy and accessible foods. Prepare a list before you head to the store or farmer’s market, and leave a little time after your trip to set yourself up for success during the week.
Look at labels
While scanning the aisles of a grocery store in the U.S., look for foods displaying the American Heart Association’s heart-check mark to spot heart-healthy foods. This logo means that the food has been certified to meet the American Heart Association’s criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol. In Australia, look for the Heart Foundation Tick.
- Make healthy substitutions. Choose substitutions like 1% or skimmed milk instead of whole milk, soft margarine for butter, and lean meats like chicken and fish in place of ribs or ground meat. These substitutions can save you an entire day’s worth of saturated fat.
- Make foods ready-to-eat. When you make healthy food easy to grab during your busy week, you’re more likely to stay heart-healthy. When you come home from grocery shopping, cut up vegetables and fruits and store them in the fridge, ready for the next meal or when you are looking for a ready-to-eat snack.
- Use your freezer. Make healthy eating easier by freezing heart-healthy foods in individual portions. Freeze fruits such as bananas, grapes, and orange slices to make them more fun to eat for children. Be careful with portion sizes: the recommended serving of cooked meat is about the size of a deck of cards, while a serving of pasta should be about the size of a baseball.
Heart-healthy cooking tips
When you prepare and cook meals at home, you have better control over the nutritional content and the overall healthfulness of the foods you eat. An added bonus: you can also save money.
- Create a library of heart-healthy recipes. Stock up on heart-healthy cookbooks and recipes for cooking ideas. The internet is full of food blogs and websites devoted to healthy cooking methods and recipes, and a local library can be a great source for cookbooks as well.
- Use heart-healthy cooking methods. Just as important as picking healthy foods at the grocery store is how you cook those foods into healthy meals. Use low-fat methods: you can bake, broil, microwave, roast, steam, poach, lightly stir fry, or sauté—using a small amount of vegetable or olive oil, reduced sodium broth, and spices.
- Cook just twice a week and make food for the whole week. When you’re cooking healthful meals, make extra helpings. Store as meals in reusable containers—or directly on plates—for easy reheating and ready-to-eat food the rest of the week. Cooking healthy food ahead this way is perhaps the most time-saving, money-saving, and heart-saving strategy available.
Eating a lot of salt can contribute to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Reducing the salt in your food is a big part of a heart-healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends no more than about a teaspoon of salt a day for an adult. That may sound alarmingly small, but there are actually many painless—even delicious—ways to reduce your sodium intake.
- Reduce canned or processed foods. Much of the salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods like soups or frozen dinners—even poultry or other meats often have salt added during processing. Eating fresh foods, looking for unsalted meats, and making your own soups or stews can dramatically reduce your sodium intake.
- Cook at home, using spices for flavor. Cooking for yourself enables you to have more control over your salt intake. Make use of the many delicious alternatives to salt. Try fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or chives. In the dried spices aisle, you can find alternatives such as allspice, bay leaves, or cumin to flavor your meal without sodium.
- Substitute reduced sodium versions, or salt substitutes. Choose your condiments and packaged foods carefully, looking for foods labeled sodium free, low sodium, or unsalted. Better yet, use fresh ingredients and cook without salt.
The DASH diet for lowering blood pressure
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, is a specially designed eating plan to help you lower your blood pressure, which is a major cause of hypertension and stroke. To learn more, download the booklet from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found in the Resources and References section below.
Unhealthy cholesterol levels increase your risk for heart disease, so keeping yours low is key to a healthier heart. Your diet is central to controlling your cholesterol. Some foods can actually lower your cholesterol, while others only make matters worse.
- Avoid saturated or trans fats. Foods containing high levels of saturated fats or trans fats—such as potato chips and packaged cookies—can increase your cholesterol levels much more significantly than cholesterol- containing foods such as eggs. Saturated fat and trans fat both increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Even worse, trans fat lowers your levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
- Make smart choices. Choose foods rich in unsaturated fats, fiber, and protein. Fruits, vegetables, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds are all great cholesterol regulators. The best foods for lowering cholesterol are oatmeal, fish, walnuts (and other nuts), olive oil, and foods fortified with sterols or stanols—substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol.
- Remember that labels can be deceiving. Navigating food labels can often be complicated since packaged foods with labels like “cholesterol free” or “low cholesterol” aren’t necessarily heart-healthy; they might even contain cholesterol that’s heart-risky. Stick to basics whenever possible: fruit, veggies, nuts, and lean proteins.
Lowering your cholesterol with fish or fish oil supplements
By adding fish like salmon or herring to your diet twice a week, you can significantly lower your cholesterol, and thus your risk for heart attack. Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which work like superheroes, doing good deeds for your heart—and your whole body.
Of all the possible improvements you can make to your diet, limiting saturated fats and cutting out trans fats entirely is perhaps the most important. Both types of fat raise your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol level, which can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. Luckily, there are many ways to control how much saturated and trans fats you take in. Keep these culprits in mind as you cook and make food choices—and learn how to avoid them.
- Limit solid fat. Reduce the amount of solid fats like butter, margarine, or shortening you add to food when cooking or serving. Instead of cooking with butter, for example, flavor your dishes with herbs or lemon juice. You can also limit solid fat by trimming fat off your meat or choosing leaner proteins.
- Substitute. Swap out high-fat foods for their lower-fat counterparts. Top your baked potato, for example, with salsa or low-fat yogurt rather than butter, or use low-sugar fruit spread on your toast instead of margarine. When cooking, use liquid oils like canola, olive, safflower, or sunflower, and substitute two egg whites for one whole egg in a recipe.
- Be label-savvy. Check food labels on any prepared foods. Many snacks, even those labeled “reduced fat,” may be made with oils containing trans fats. One clue that a food has some trans fat is the phrase “partially hydrogenated.” And look for hidden fat; refried beans may contain lard, or breakfast cereals may have significant amounts of fat.
- Change your habits. The best way to avoid saturated or trans fats is to change your lifestyle practices. Instead of chips, snack on fruit or vegetables. Challenge yourself to cook with a limited amount of butter. At restaurants, ask that sauces or dressings be put on the side—or left off altogether.
Not all fats are bad for your heart
While saturated and trans fats are roadblocks to a healthy heart, unsaturated fats are essential for good health. You just have to know the difference. “Good” fats include:
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Fatty fish like salmon, trout, or herring and flaxseed, canola oil, and walnuts all contain polyunsaturated fats that are vital for the body.
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids. Vegetable oils, soy nuts, and many types of seeds all contain healthy fats.
- Monounsaturated fats. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, and butters made from these nuts, as well as avocadoes, are all great sources of “good” fat.
EATING TO PREVENT HEART DISEASE AND BOOST HEART HEALTH
Weight control and regular exercise are critical for keeping your heart in shape—but the food you eat may matter just as much. Experts say that eating a heart-healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke by 80%. With heart disease still the number one killer of both men and women in the United States, this is important—and heartening—news.
By understanding how your food choices impact the health of your heart, you may be able to prevent or manage heart disease and high blood pressure. Learn which foods and methods of cooking are healthiest for your heart, and you can take greater control over the quality and length of your life.
You can take steps to prevent heart disease
Heart disease may be the leading killer of men and women, but that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself. In addition to exercise, being careful about what you eat—and what you don’t eat—can help you lower cholesterol, control blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and maintain a healthy weight. If you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease or have high cholesterol or blood pressure, a heart-smart diet can help you better manage these conditions, lowering your risk for heart attack.
Improving your diet is an important step toward preventing heart disease, but you may feel unsure where to begin. Take a look at the big picture: your overall eating patterns are more important than obsessing over individual foods. No single food can make you magically healthy, so your goal can be to incorporate a variety of healthy foods cooked in healthy ways into your diet, and make these habits your new lifestyle.
|Healthy fats: raw nuts, olive oil, fish oils, flax seeds, or avocados||Trans fats from partially hydrogenated or deep-fried foods; saturated fats from whole-fat dairy or red meat|
|Nutrients: colorful fruits and vegetables—fresh or frozen, prepared without butter||Packaged foods of any kind, especially those high in sodium|
|Fiber: cereals, breads, and pasta made from whole grains or legumes||White or egg breads, granola-type cereals, refined pastas or rice|
|Omega 3 and protein: fish and shellfish, poultry||Red meat, bacon, sausage, fried chicken|
|Calcium and protein: Egg whites, egg substitutes, skim or 1% milk, low-fat or nonfat cheeses or yogurt||Egg yolks, whole or 2 percent milk, whole milk products like cheese or yogurt|
Almonds are rich in omega-3s, plus nuts increase fiber in the diet, says Dr. Sinatra. “And like olive oil, they are a great source of healthy fat.”
Berries Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries — whatever berry you like best — are full of anti-inflammatories, which reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.
“Blackberries and blueberries are especially great,” says Sinatra. “But all berries are great for your vascular health.” Health.com: How I survived a heart attack at 43
Legumes Fill up on fiber with lentils, chickpeas, and black and kidney beans. They’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and soluble fiber.
Spinach Spinach can help keep your ticker in top shape thanks to its stores of lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber.
But upping your servings of any veggies is sure to give your heart a boost. The Physicians’ Health Study examined more than 15,000 men without heart disease for a period of 12 years. Those who ate at least 2½ servings of vegetables each day cut their risk of heart disease by about 25 percent, compared with those who didn’t eat the veggies. Each additional serving reduced risk by another 17 percent.
Flaxseed Full of fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, a little sprinkling of flaxseed can go a long way for your heart. Top a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with a smidgen of ground flaxseed for the ultimate heart-healthy breakfast.
Soy Soy may lower cholesterol, and since it is low in saturated fat, it’s still a great source of lean protein in a heart-healthy diet.
Look for natural sources of soy, like edamame, tempeh, or organic silken tofu. And soy milk is a great addition to a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal. But watch the amount of salt in your soy: Some processed varieties like soy dogs can contain added sodium, which boosts blood pressure.
Simple food choices go a long way when it comes to your heart’s health. Focusing on fresh foods full of heart-healthy fats and antioxidants can decrease your risk of developing heart disease and cut your chances of a heart attack. These 10 foods will help keep your ticker in top shape.
Oatmeal Start your day with a steaming bowl of oats, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. This fiber-rich superfood can lower levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol and help keep arteries clear.
Opt for coarse or steel-cut oats over instant varieties — the coarse and steel-cut contain more fiber — and top your bowl off with a banana for another four grams of fiber.
Salmon Super-rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can effectively reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay. Aim for two servings per week, which may reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by up to one-third.
“Salmon contains the carotenoid astaxanthin, which is a very powerful antioxidant,” says cardiologist Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, the author of “Lower Your Blood Pressure In Eight Weeks.” But be sure to choose wild salmon over farm-raised fish, which can be packed with insecticides, pesticides, and heavy metals.
Not a fan of salmon? Other oily fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines will give your heart the same boost.
Avocado Add a bit of avocado to a sandwich or spinach salad to increase the amount of heart-healthy fats in your diet. Packed with monounsaturated fat,
avocados can help lower LDL levels while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body.
Health.com: What puts you at risk for high cholesterol?
“Avocados are awesome,” says Dr. Sinatra. “They allow for the absorption of other carotenoids — especially beta-carotene and lycopene — which are essential for heart health.”
Olive oil Full of monounsaturated fats, olive oil lowers bad LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk of developing heart disease.
Results from the Seven Countries Study, which looked at cardiovascular disease incidences across the globe, showed that while men in Crete had a predisposition for high cholesterol levels, relatively few died of heart disease because their diet focused on heart-healthy fats found in olive oil. Look for extra-virgin or virgin varieties — they’re the least processed — and use them instead of butter when cooking. Health.com: Good fats vs. bad fats — what to eat
Nuts Almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts are all full of omega-3 fatty acids and mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
Use these seven rules to tap into the power of foods that can naturally slow sugar absorption, so you can keep eating meals you love.
Sip A Glass Of Wine With Dinner
Reason: Your liver won’t produce as much glucose.
Alcohol has unique sugar-blocking properties. Your liver normally converts some of the fat and protein in your blood to glucose, which adds to the glucose from the carbs you eat. But alcohol consumed with a meal temporarily halts your liver’s glucose production. A serving of any alcohol–beer, red or white wine, or a shot of hard liquor–will reduce the blood sugar load of a typical serving of starch by approximately 25%.
That doesn’t mean you should have several drinks (especially if you have diabetes, as multiple drinks can cause hypoglycemia). Not only does alcohol contain calories, but it also delays the sensation of fullness, so you tend to overeat and pile on calories. Be especially mindful about avoiding cocktails that are made with sweetened mixers–yet another source of sugar.
Use these seven rules to tap into the power of foods that can naturally slow sugar absorption, so you can keep eating meals you love.
Nosh on Lightly Cooked Vegetables
Reason: You digest them more slowly.
Both fruits and vegetables contain soluble fiber. As a rule, though, vegetables make better sugar blockers, because they have more fiber and less sugar.
But don’t cook your vegetables to mush. Boiling vegetables until they’re limp and soggy saturates the soluble fiber, filling it with water so it can’t absorb the sugar and starch you want it to. Also, crisp vegetables are chunkier when they reach your stomach, and larger food particles take longer to digest, so you’ll feel full longer. Another tip: Roasted vegetables like cauliflower can often serve as a delicious starch substitute.
Use these seven rules to tap into the power of foods that can naturally slow sugar absorption, so you can keep eating meals you love.
Include Protein With Your Meal
Reason: You won’t secrete as much insulin.
Here’s a paradox: You want to blunt insulin spikes–but to do that, you need to start secreting insulin sooner rather than later. It’s like a fire department responding to a fire. The quicker the alarm goes off, the fewer firefighters will be needed to put out the blaze.
Even though protein contains no glucose, it triggers a “first-phase insulin response” that occurs so fast, it keeps your blood sugar from rising as high later–and reduces the total amount of insulin you need to handle a meal. So have meatballs with your spaghetti.
Eat Some Vinegar
Reason: It slows the breakdown of starch into sugar.
The high acetic acid content in vinegar deactivates amylase, the enzyme that turns starch into sugar. (It doesn’t matter what kind of vinegar you use.) Because it acts on starch only, it has no effect on the absorption of refined sugar. In other words, it will help if you eat bread, but not candy. But there’s one more benefit: Vinegar also increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
You should consume vinegar at the start of your meal. Put it in salad dressing or sprinkle a couple of tablespoons on meat or vegetables. Vinegar brings out the flavor of food, as salt does.
Start Your Meal With A Salad
Reason: It soaks up starch and sugar.
Soluble fiber from the pulp of plants–such as beans, carrots, apples, and oranges–swells like a sponge in your intestines and traps starch and sugar in the niches between its molecules. Soluble means “dissolvable”–and indeed, soluble fiber eventually dissolves, releasing glucose. However, that takes time. The glucose it absorbs seeps into your bloodstream slowly, so your body needs less insulin to handle it. A good way to ensure that you get enough soluble fiber is to have a salad–preferably before, rather than after, you eat a starch.
Have a Fatty Snack
Have a fatty snack 10 to 30 minutes before your meals. Reason: You remain fuller longer.
At the outlet of your stomach is a muscular ring, the pyloric valve. It regulates the speed at which food leaves your stomach and enters your small intestine. This valve is all that stands between the ziti in your stomach and a surge of glucose in your bloodstream. But you can send your pyloric valve a message to slow down.
Fat triggers a reflex that constricts the valve and slows digestion. As little as a teaspoon of fat–easily provided by a handful of nuts or a piece of cheese–will do the trick, provided you eat it before your meal.