There is a wide variety of resources for patients with diabetes or heart disease. Our main focus has been on research that has implications for people with BOTH diabetes and heart disease, and research on the foods/substances that diabetic heart patients have to watch. Here are a few resources we have found that that are widely respected. They represent a good starting point for learning more.
PURE Diet Study: The PURE Diet study, conducted by the European Society of Cardiology, refers to a study involving pooled data from 18 countries (15 of which were low- or middle-income). “Pure” stands for “Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology.” The findings challenged some of the longstanding assumptions about the role of saturated fats, as opposed to the influence of high carbohydrate diets, on heart disease.
The following sources describe more about the study and some of what it concluded (or did not conclude):
Depression: Information on the link between heart disease and depression: University of Iowa
Heart health and whole grains: research suggests that consuming whole grains reduces the risk of both diabetes and heart disease.
Diabetes is about more than managing blood glucose. This 2014 article in Today’s Dietitian discusses the delicate balance between eating for both diabetes and heart disease.
Carbohydrates and blood sugar are the subject of this article, which explains the difference between simple and complex carbs, how the body breaks down carbs, and the role of the glycemic index and “glycemic load” of foods in the digestion process.
Research involving both diabetes and heart disease
Whole Grains: this study suggests that greater whole-grain intake is associated with lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and weight gain.
Sugar and artificial sweeteners
Research on artificial sweeteners: ttps://www.thediabetescouncil.com/the-relationship-between-diabetes-and-sweeteners/
Sucralose causes metabolic response: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/36/9/2530.full
The American Heart Association‘s recommendation is to limit saturated fat consumption to 13 grams daily. This is the traditional approach to saturated fat consumption, but a view that is not universally shared, as some other studies and articles suggest. A number of other respected sources, such as the Cleveland Clinic, have published consumer information supporting this view.
This article, The Disputed Science on Saturated Fats, disputes the traditional advice on saturated fat. The summary states that ” The rigorous trial data do not support the allegation that saturated fats cause cardiovascular mortality or total mortality. While saturated fats can be shown to raise the “bad” LDL-cholesterol, this elevated risk factor does not result in higher mortality rates, very likely reflecting a more complicated pathway for cardiovascular disease than simply LDL-C (i.e., saturated fats also consistently raise the “good” HDL-cholesterol, which may be a compensating effect).” The article is from The Nutrition Council, a nonprofit, non-partisan educational organization, and heavily cites published research studies.
Sorting fat from fiction: This article, from Heart Foundation (the Australian version of the American Heart Association) discusses the controversy over the role of saturated fat and notes the importance of not only viewing one substance in a vacuum, but considering what the other sources of energy are when a substance is removed from the diet. A more detailed, scientific summary of the Foundation’s position on dietary fat is summarized in this document.
Butter versus margarine: This article on the pros and cons of butter and margarine is consumer oriented, but it cites further sources from Harvard, the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, the American Heart Association, and others).
Starchy and refined carbohydrates
List of unrefined carbs: https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/list-unrefined-carbohydrates-7693.html
Salt measurements: The American Heart Association’s website includes this page, which explains the (slight) difference between salt and sodium, the amounts of sodium in common measurements of salt, and a listing of chemical names to watch for when you read labels, that suggest hidden sodium.
Importance of reading labels
Other Sites and articles
- American Heart Association
- American Diabetes Association
- Mayo Clinic
- Cleveland Clinic
- Harvard Health Publishing
Facebook groups: For practical answers to real-life daily challenges, and the support of other people dealing with these issues, we sometimes consider Facebook groups devoted to issues like diabetes, heart disease, low-sodium living, and the combination of diabetes and heart disease. However, no social media group can or should replace your doctor’s advice. Regardless of the firmly-held beliefs of specific groups, nothing is more important than the need for expert medical advice and guidance specific to your condition and needs.
Two groups devoted to low-sodium lifestyles are highlighted below. Most are closed groups, but require only that you answer some questions and adhere to limited group rules, such as treating other members with respect and recognizing the shared beliefs around which the groups are formed.
- Hacking Salt: This website was started by Christopher Lower, a heart patient who made it his mission to help others manage a low sodium lifestyle. He created so many recipes, tips and resources (for example, an entire low sodium Thanksgiving menu) that he eventually published a book, “The Easy Low Sodium Diet Plan.” Sadly, Mr. Lower lost his battle with heart disease in 2018, but his wife Mary has continued the site in his memory. In addition, there is a Facebook group called “Hacking Salt” that provides support, ideas and resources for people living a “loso” (low sodium) lifestyle.
- Shakin The Salt: This site provides a wide range of low or no-sodium recipes, including seasoning blends and “copycat” recipes of favorite dishes that would otherwise be off limits. There is also a very active Shakin the Salt Facebook group, where members can share ideas and victories, receive answers to questions and see other members’ latest low sodium finds.