Cardiometabolic diet and who should follow it?
The Cardiometabolic Food Plan is designed for the following individuals:
Those with risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD)
Those with risk factors for dysfunctional metabolic conditions such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes (T2D), or both.
Those with CVD (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and elevated blood fats)
Those with metabolic syndrome (e.g., high blood sugar, increased belly fat)
Those with T2D
Cardiometabolic Food Plan
Condition-Specific Therapeutic Considerations
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best sweeteners?
As much as possible, refrain from eating any added sweeteners due to the damaging effects that sugar can have on blood vessels and other body organs. When craving something sweet, choose from the low to moderate-GI fruits listed on the Cardiometabolic Food Plan. Eating an apple or having a handful of fresh blueberries can help to quell sugar cravings. This plan does not include artificial sweeteners. Stevia may be used in limited amounts for food preparation. Only a small amount is required as it is an intensely sweet botanical.
What drinks are allowed?
Drink water throughout the day. A good goal is to drink about half one’s body weight in ounces (e.g., a 160-pound person would drink 80 ounces, or 10 cups), with a limit of 100 ounces daily. Drink less water with a meal and more in between meals. Unsweetened herbal teas, such as mint, chamomile, or hibiscus, are also good choices as they provide flavor and medicinal compounds. Green tea helps with blood sugar control. Typical recommendations for herbal or green tea are 1-3 cups per day. Caffeine-sensitive individuals may be advised to drink decaffeinated varieties of green tea.
What about eating eggs?
There has been an ongoing debate about eggs, particularly when it comes to heart disease, as originally it appeared that the cholesterol in eggs made blood cholesterol rise. It is now known that this is not so and that people with CVD may eat eggs on a daily basis. However, other research suggests that it is better for those with T2D to have fewer eggs, typically less than one egg per day.
What condiments are acceptable?
Many condiments, such as teriyaki sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and glazes, have sugar added. It would be best to avoid them entirely and to make homemade versions that are healthier. Adding more herbs and spices to foods can replace unhealthy condiments.
What about drinking alcohol?
The alcohol question always surfaces, especially when talking about the Mediterranean diet, which includes red wine. There are phytonutrients present within red wine, such as resveratrol, that help to relax blood vessels, increase good cholesterol, and bring blood sugar into balance. However, red wine is also a form of sugar and added calories, and may not be good for everyone. A health practitioner who knows the individual patient’s health history can make a determination as to whether moderate or occasional use of alcohol would be appropriate and consistent with health goals. For a generally healthy man, 1 to 2 glasses (5 ounces or ⅔ cup) of red wine, depending on body weight may be perfectly acceptable at meals. Women should be advised to have just 1 glass of wine no more than four times a week due to the recognized association between breast cancer and increased alcohol consumption.
What about drinking coffee and tea?
The answer to whether or not to drink caffeinated coffee or tea is not so straightforward. In general, studies show that the short-term effects of caffeine include tightening of blood vessels, causing unfavorable changes in blood pressure. Also, caffeine increases cortisol, a stress hormone, so it can make people feel more wired and “on edge.” For some, caffeine can cause a speeding heart rate and abnormal heart rhythms. On the other hand, the phytonutrients in coffee, like chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid, may be helpful in better processing of blood sugar by the liver, thus helping to control the liver’s production of sugar. Moderate consumption of up to 3 cups daily has been shown to be associated with lower rates of T2D. Therefore, every particular situation must be evaluated and discussed with a health practitioner. Patients should be advised not to add cow’s milk and sugar. Rather, they should use dairy alternatives such as almond, flaxseed, coconut, and soy milks. Green tea may be a better drink for most people. It contains caffeine, but not as much as a typical cup of coffee, and it can be purchased in non-caffeinated varieties. Green tea contains phytonutrients that are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, helping to assist with blood sugar balance, blood lipids, and the expansion of the blood vessels. Drinking both green and black teas has been associated with reduction in the risk of heart disease and stroke by 10% to 20%. Three cups per day appears to provide the most benefit in blood pressure lowering and reducing CVD risk overall.
Why is coconut oil on this plan? Isn’t it bad for the heart?
Extra-virgin olive oil should be the staple oil for salad dressings and cooking, but small amounts of coconut oil can also be used. Research indicates that coconut oil may have some merit as it provides short- and medium-chain fats that can be quickly oxidized for energy. Too much coconut oil that is of low quality, however, is not healthy. On this plan, up to three teaspoons of coconut oil can be included per day.