Nutrition choices are vital in conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. If you are a meat lover and depend on meat for proteins and other nutritional elements, but have hypertension or diabetes, then you need to make careful and healthier choices for the meat.1,2
The correct type of meat in the right quantity can help you enjoy your favourite food even though if you have hypertension or diabetes.2 We hope that we can share some important information through this article that can assist you in making healthier choices of meat if you have hypertension or diabetes.
Are hypertension and diabetes connected?
The value of 120/80 mm of Hg is considered as the normal/ideal blood pressure, whereas the values above 140/90 mm of Hg indicate hypertension.3 If you have diabetes, you will have higher levels of blood glucose than normal, which puts you at a greater risk of heart diseases. If you have had high blood glucose levels for a long time, then there may be an excessive build-up of the fatty materials in the linings of your blood vessels. This may put you at the risk of having heart diseases such as high blood pressure or stroke.4
Since these conditions are connected, the many food restrictions can apply to both the conditions. The basic choices of healthy food and the type of meat you should consume if you have diabetes or hypertension tend to remain the same.4
What is the healthy meat choice for people having hypertension or diabetes?
Unprocessed lean meat is a healthy meat choice for people with diabetes and hypertension.4 Meat is a rich source of proteins, vitamins and iron.5 It also contains unhealthy fats that may increase your weight and put you at risk of developing heart diseases. Lean or extra lean meat contain lower percentage of fat than the non-lean meat.6 If you can manage the type of meat, the quantity you may eat, and the cooking style, then you can enjoy your favourite food without messing up your blood pressure or blood glucose levels.2
Are there any useful tips for meat lovers who have hypertension or diabetes?
The following healthy choices will help you avoid any complications in hypertension or diabetes arising due to wrong food choices:2,4
- Choose skinless chicken parts, such as skinless thighs and breast pieces, as they contain very less fat.
- Limit or completely abstain from the intake of red meat as it contains saturated fat that tends to increase your blood cholesterol levels more than white, lean meat . Pork, lamb and beef contain mostly red meat; therefore, while choosing this type of meat, go for the brands with a minimum quantity of fat displayed on their nutrition facts. Chicken, turkey and fish are better alternatives for meat lovers.
- Cut off the visible fat from the meat pieces before cooking.
- Minimize the use of processed meat such as salami, sausages and hot dogs.
- Drain the melted fat from the meat before you cook it completely.
- Bake, roast or stew the meat instead of frying since it also minimizes the oil used in cooking.
- Choose smaller portions and thin slices. The American Heart Association (AHA) states that one portion of meat should be around the size of a deck of cards.
- Choose chicken and turkey that is free from any fat injections that usually are done to add flavour to the meat.2
Hypertension and diabetes are two important conditions associated with metabolic syndrome.7 Diet control and regular exercise are equally important in keeping the symptoms under control. There are several alternatives of meat that can provide proteins, vitamins and iron. However, if you like eating meat, then consuming it in the right way can help you derive the nutrition without compromising your health.1,2
Making wrong meat choices can worsen hypertension or diabetes. Therefore, make your meat choices wisely and enjoy food and good health at the same time!
- American Heart Association. Living healthy with diabetes [Internet]. [updated 2015 Aug 31; cited 2019 Nov 29]. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/diabetes/prevention–treatment-of-diabetes/living-healthy-with-diabetes.
- American Heart Association. Meat poultry and fish: picking healthy proteins [Internet]. [updated 2017 Mar 26; cited 2019 Nov 29]. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/meat-poultry-and-fish-picking-healthy-proteins.
- NHS. High blood pressure (hypertension) [Internet]. [updated 2019 Oct 23; cited 2019 Nov 29]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/.
- Diabetes UK. Eating for diabetes and heart health [Internet]. [cited 2019 Nov 29] Available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/eating-with-diabetes/managing-other-medical-conditions/eating-for-diabetes-and-heart-health.
- American Diabetes Association. Protein [Internet]. [cited 2019 Nov 29]. Available from: https://www.diabetes.org/nutrition/healthy-food-choices-made-easy/protein.
- American Meat Science Association. How to incorporate lean meat in your diet? [Internet]. [updated 2017 May 31; cited 2019 Nov 29]. Available from: https://meatscience.org/TheMeatWeEat/topics/fresh-meat/article/2017/05/31/how-to-incorporate-lean-meats-in-your-diet.
- American Heart Association. About metabolic syndrome [Internet]. [updated 2016 Jul 31; cited 2019 Nov 29]. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/metabolic-syndrome/about-metabolic-syndrome.