Salt-Free Diet May Improve Heart Health For Diabetics

Seniors living with diabetes must exercise extreme caution when selecting which foods to integrate into their diets. While people with this condition know to shy away from foods high in sugar content, a new study indicates that they should avoid those high in sodium, as well.

Study reveals salt may double risk of heart disease for diabetics
Diets replete with high-sodium foods may drastically increase diabetics’ risk for developing cardiovascular conditions down the road, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Medical News Today reported that researchers found a strong connection between high salt intake and increased cardiovascular problems among trial participants who had diabetes. Study author Chika Horikawa, from the University of Niigata Prefecture in Japan, explained that these were among the first medical findings that corroborated doctors’ recommendations that people avoid sodium.

“To reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, it is important for people who have Type 2 diabetes to improve their blood sugar control as well as watch their diet,” Horikawa said, as quoted by MNT. “Our findings demonstrate that restricting salt in the diet could help prevent dangerous complications from diabetes.”

Tips for reducing salt intake in seniors
While those with diabetes are accustomed to limiting their intake of foods with high levels of sugar, they may not be as versed in the best ways to reduce sodium content. The American Heart Association recommended that seniors with diabetes limit their daily sodium consumption to under 1,500 mg each day. Aside from avoiding meals with high salt content, there are a few tips to follow that may lead to a reduction in your daily sodium levels.

Spice up your seasonings: Stock up your spice rack with a variety of other herbs and seasonings that will add flavor to your dishes. While a dash of salt may not do much harm to your overall cardiovascular health, sticking with more natural herbs can lead to a variety of other health benefits. Be sure to have lemon juice, oregano, basil, parsley, pepper and garlic on hand next time you’re cooking.
Purchase all-natural ingredients: It goes without saying, but fresh foods from the produce, dairy and bread sections are more likely to contain fewer preservatives and more nutrients than those that come from a box or have an abnormally long shelf-life.
Pass on fast food: While meals prepared by fast food institutions are generally cheap and easy to come by, they can be replete with high levels of sodium. From the meats to the fries to the buns, fast food restaurants load their ingredients with this spice, as it is a relatively inexpensive and widely used preservative.

Salt- and sugar-free lemon glazed chicken breasts
As you’re searching for the perfect meals to supplement your diabetic-friendly diet, opt for those with high levels of nutrients and fiber. The AHA recommended lean meats, such as skinless chicken and turkey. Consider this delicious chicken dish next time you’re cooking dinner for friends at the retirement community.


3 chicken breasts
1 clove garlic, pressed
4 lemons, washed and sliced
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large casserole dish, spread out chicken breasts. Combine white wine, olive oil and garlic in a medium bowl and whisk together. Pour mixture over the chicken, then season with your favorite spices. Arrange lemon slices around the chicken so the foods can blend while cooking. Allow the dish to cook for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the chicken is completely white on the inside. Serve with your favorite green vegetable, such as Brussels sprouts or collard greens.


For new dietary guidelines, U.S. panel looks at the whole plate

by Lily Dayton
When it comes to a healthful diet, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That’s the new approach a nutritional advisory committee has taken in its recommendations to the federal government for the upcoming 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Rather than focus on individual foods and nutrients, as Dietary Guidelines Advisory committees have in years past, the committee focused on overall dietary patterns that correlate with positive health outcomes.
“I think it’s a really important paradigm shift,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health and member of the advisory committee. “In real life, we don’t eat isolated nutrients or foods. We eat complex meals, so it makes sense to look at the totality of diet: foods and nutrients in the combination, frequency and quantity that they are habitually consumed.”

The scientific report, which came out in February, analyzed a large body of studies to identify dietary patterns associated with a lower risk of heart disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and a variety of cancers and mental health impairments. Three eating patterns were consistently associated with good health: the healthful U.S.-style pattern, the healthful Mediterranean-style pattern and the healthful vegetarian pattern.

Though there are differences among them, they share a high intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, legumes and nuts; a moderate intake of low-fat and nonfat dairy products and alcohol; and a low intake of red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, and refined grains.

After a period of review, the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015, will come out later this year.

The actual nutrition recommendations are the same as those in the 2010 guidelines, but the approach is different, says Anna Maria Siega-Riz, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and chair of the advisory panel’s subcommittee on dietary patterns.

“The benefits of looking at different patterns as opposed to single foods and nutrients are manifold,” says Siega-Riz. First, it’s much easier for people to think of what they consume over time — and modify their overall eating pattern accordingly. Second, nutrients in foods may have synergistic effects when eaten in combination, interacting to create different health effects than when eaten alone. (For example, vitamin C in dark green vegetables increases the absorption of iron from lean meat and fish; eating healthful fats with vegetables enhances the absorption of cancer-fighting phytonutrients.)

Third, because foods are eaten together, we always have to think of nutrition in terms of substitution, says Siega-Riz, pointing to studies showing that pregnant women who regularly eat fish are less likely to have preterm birth. Though it seems reasonable to conclude that the protective benefit comes from omega-3 fatty acids in the fish, researchers have found that omega-3 fatty acid supplements don’t have the same effect. “This happens in nutrition all the time. People may be eating fish, but they also may be eating less of something else, or more fruits and vegetables along with the fish.”

One of the biggest advantages to viewing diet in terms of overall pattern is that it can then be tailored to fit the needs of different individuals based on food preferences, cooking preferences and cultural traditions.

But the true test will be whether or not individuals improve the way they eat, says Carolyn Katzin, certified nutrition specialist and integrated oncology specialist at UCLA. In order to do that, she says, the dietary guidelines must be accessible. “There is so much opportunity with online interfaces and social media. I want to see graphics, pictures, something that makes the dietary patterns easy for individuals to follow.”