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Guidelines for High Cholesterol and Diabetes

How to Eat With Both High Cholesterol and Diabetes


Updated January 03, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

If you have been diagnosed with both high cholesterol and diabetes*, you may be feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of changing your diet. You should know that there is considerable overlap for how to eat with the two conditions, and that it is not as difficult as you may think.

There are several things to keep in mind when it comes to your diet. Here are three first steps for managing high cholesterol and diabetes with what you eat.

Weight Loss

Weight loss improves both conditions. Losing weight can help you lower your average blood glucose levels, as well as lower your total cholesterol and LDL "bad" cholesterol.

Begin a weight loss plan by keeping a food record of what you are presently eating. Record the time you eat, and the amounts every day for three days (two weekdays and one weekend day). At the end of the three days, have your record analyzed by a registered dietitian, or use an online program to determine the average number of calories you are eating.

Along with physical activity, controlling your daily calorie intake is the key to weight loss. Following a set menu plan can be a helpful way to keep your diet under control. Begin by Calculating Your Daily Calorie Requirements to find the calorie level you need for weight loss.

Choose Good Fats Over Bad Fats

Increase monounsaturated fats (found in foods such as walnuts, avocado, olive oil) and decrease saturated fats (found in full-fat meats and dairy products) and trans fats (found in fried foods and baked goods).

Increase Fiber

Fiber is the indigestible part of plants. Fiber (soluble) aids in lowering LDL "bad" cholesterol and also helps to keep blood glucose levels steady. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are the best sources of fiber. Aim to increase the amount of fiber you eat every day gradually, to a goal of 25 grams per day.

Tip: Keep in mind that you are not alone. High cholesterol and diabetes, are two of the most common medical conditions among American adults. Aim to make dietary changes gradually, congratulate yourself for the positive changes that you are able to make, and be sure to talk to a medical professional for advice.

*Note that there are several forms of diabetes. Not all forms can be managed through diet alone. Make sure you check with your physician for specific steps for managing your condition.


Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke National Diabetes information clearinghouse (NDIC). Accessed 12.25.10

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