How Blood Sugar Affects Heart Health
Many people know how fat, cholesterol, and sodium affect heart health, but what about blood sugar? Research has shown that it too plays an important part in having a healthy heart. Having high blood sugar, or an elevated blood glucose level, is believed to interfere with the proper working of blood vessels and subsequently increase the risk of heart disease.
Understand the Basics
Knowledge is power, so start with a good general understanding of blood sugar basics. Know that the food you eat is converted into glucose, which is a form of sugar that your body uses as fuel. Excess sugar in the body is stored as fat and can contribute to being overweight. High blood sugar raises blood pressure and heart rate, interferes with the functioning of blood vessels, and can contribute to heart disease. Then there’s diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that’s defined by a person’s blood sugar level, or blood glucose level, being too high. So by definition, diabetics are at an increased risk for heart disease. According to The American Heart Association, adults with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to have heart disease or stroke than adults without diabetes.
What You Can Do
Lowering an elevated blood sugar level, whether diabetic or not, can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Here are some guidelines:
- Eat a balanced, low-sugar diet to keep blood sugar in check and help prevent weight gain. Know that sugar is found in many foods, not just sweets.
- Keep carbohydrates in check, as the body breaks down carbs into glucose.
- Eat plenty of fiber-rich foods including whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Eat fish rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon or mackerel, at least twice a week.
- Limit foods high in fat, cholesterol and sodium.
- Consider consulting a registered dietitian to help you create a healthy eating plan.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.
For more information on heart health and diabetes management, please contact us at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Heart Institute. Visit us online or call Consult-a-Nurse® at 1-800-382-3522 for answers to your questions and free referrals to doctors in Ft. Pierce and throughout the Treasure Coast.