Our genes can predispose us to metabolic syndrome, but it’s our diet that can seal the deal. The food you put into your body has a direct affect on all five factors associated with metabolic syndrome: high blood pressure, large waistline, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high fasting blood sugar.
“Most people with metabolic syndrome need to lose weight, first of all,” says Mira Ilac, MS, RD, LD, a clinical dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic. A good diet is a powerful first step. However, it’s not about skipping meals or loading up your grocery cart with highly processed “diet” foods, since both of these strategies usually backfire. “You need to learn to make your calories work for you, not against you,” Ilac says.
Eat the Right Kind of Fat
Among the keys to reversing metabolic syndrome is raising your HDL cholesterol (remember “H” for healthy) and lowering your LDL (remember “L” for lousy). Blood cholesterol is actually fat circulating in your blood — which means to control it, you want to watch the fats circulating in your diet.
Choose Quality Carbohydrates
When it comes to nutrition, not all carbs are created equal. “Some foods raise your blood sugar more quickly,” Ilac says, like refined and processed foods full of white flour or added sugar. These high-sugar foods also contribute to high triglyceride levels. On the other hand, minimally or unprocessed carbs, like whole grains, legumes, and fruits and vegetables are digested more slowly and evenly because they have more fiber — meaning you keep your blood sugar on an even keel. Plus, they pack in more nutrients bite for bite and fill you up better.
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