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Diabetes and dietWhen you think of diabetes management, you most likely are thinking of daily routines. Individuals can restore their carbohydrate metabolism to a normal state by monitoring their blood sugar levels and acting accordingly. However, there are key measurements, the ABCs of diabetes, outside of daily management that track long-term progress.

If you have diabetes, three key steps—the ABCs—can help you better manage your diabetes and lower your risk of heart attack and stroke​. Learn about the ABCs of diabetes and keep track of your progress for each one.

A for A1C Test

The A1C test is short for hemoglobin A1C. It shows you what your blood glucose has been over the last 3 months and lets you know if your blood glucose level is under control. Controlling your blood glucose level will help prevent complications. You should get this test at least twice a year. Number to aim for is below 7.

B for Blood Pressure

The higher your blood pressure, the harder your heart has to work. Get your blood pressure measured at every doctor's visit and work with your doctor to set a blood pressure goal that is right for you.

C for Cholesterol

Maintain a normal cholesterol level (under 200 mg/dL). Your HDL should be 40 mg/dL or higher and your triglyceride level should be 150 mg/dL or lower. LDL should be below 100 mg/dL. LDL or "bad" cholesterol builds up and clogs your arteries. Be sure to get your cholesterol tested once per year and aim for a LDL below 100 mg/dL​.

Tips to Prevent and Control Diabetes

Get Active!

  • Do physical activities with moderate effort for a total of 2 hours and 30 minutes each week.
  • If ready, do physical activity with vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes for a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes each week.
  • Aim to be active for at least 10 minutes at a time.
  • Lift weights at least 2 days each week.

Eat less sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sugar.

  • Trim the fat off meat and the skin off chicken.
  • Bake, broil, boil, or grill instead of frying.
  • Use a small amount of vegetable oil instead of lard or butter.
  • Cut down on sausage, bacon, and fried foods.
  • Drink water and sugar-free beverages.

Eat more fiber.

  • Choose whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans.
  • Add fruit to your lunch.
  • Add vegetables and beans to soups and casseroles.

Stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you are overweight.

  • Eat smaller portions—do not go back for a second serving.
  • Drink water or other calorie-free drinks.

If you smoke, stop.

  • Ask your doctor, family, or friends to help you quit smoking.

If you already have diabetes, add these steps to control your diabetes:

  • Check your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels as the doctor tells you.
  • Take medicines as the doctor tells you, even when you feel fine.
  • Ask your doctor about taking aspirin to prevent a heart attack.
  • Check your feet every day. Check for cuts, bruises, red areas, or swelling.
  • Brush your teeth and use dental floss every day.
  • See your eye doctor once a year, or more often if you have eye problems.
  • Find support to help you handle stress.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Stay one step ahead by following the ABCs of diabetes. These steps help monitor and control contributing factors to diseases and conditions related to diabetes. To learn more about living a heart healthy lifestyle, visit our resource page​.​​



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