Worried About Heart Disease Risk

Q: I've heard that many people with type 2 diabetes are at risk for high blood pressure and heart and blood vessel problems. Should I focus not only on the amount of carbs I eat, but also the amount and type of fat as well?

A: You are 100 percent correct. People at risk for or with type 2 diabetes also commonly have high blood pressure and are at risk for or have heart and blood vessel diseases. Controlling the amount of carbohydrates you eat to keep your blood glucose in control is important. But controlling the amount and type of fat you eat is also important.

These recommendations are part of a healthful eating plan for diabetes.

Many people with type 2 diabetes need to lose a few pounds. Fat is high in calories, and if you're trying to lose weight, it's helpful to consume less fat. It's also important for your heart health to choose unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and oils, such as those in canola oil, olive oil, and nuts) and limit saturated fats, such as those in cheese, meats, and regular-fat dairy foods. Another type of saturated fat that you should limit is trans fat; avoid partially hydrogenated fat or oil in prepared or processed foods. It's also important to limit the amount of cholesterol you eat. The recommendation is no more than 200 mg per day on average. Cholesterol is only present in foods of animal origin, such as dairy foods, meat, poultry, and seafood.

Depending on your individual situation, it may be initially more important for you to pay attention to fat versus carbohydrates or vice versa. But for the long haul, it will likely be important for you to control both the amount and type of carbohydrates and fat you eat.

Madhu Gadia, M.S., R.D., is a certified diabetes educator.