What to eat and what to avoid: Health basics at the Cleveland Clinic

Metabolic syndrome it is a serious condition. It is a set of factors that put you at risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

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But you can change that by making some changes in your eating habits, says dietitian Melissa Matteo, MS, RD, LD, CDE. “Changing the way you eat can make a big difference in controlling your metabolic syndrome.”

What is metabolic syndrome?

According to the American Heart Association, a person has metabolic syndrome if they have three or more of these factors:

  • High blood sugar.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High levels of triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood).
  • Low levels of HDL cholesterol (the so-called “good” cholesterol).
  • Big waist or “apple-shaped” body.

The good news: adopting healthier eating habits can influence each of these factors.

Metabolic syndrome: foods to avoid

Diet review can seem intimidating. But you don’t have to go to the extreme. As a first step, Matteo recommends focusing on unhelpful foods that you can gradually eliminate. This includes:

  • Refined carbohydrates such as white flour, sugary snacks and drinks sweetened with sugar, low in fiber and nutrients. And if it’s not bad enough, they also cause spikes in blood sugar levels and contribute to overeating and obesity.
  • Saturated fats found in foods such as red meat, whole milk dairy products and many baked goods. They can increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease.
  • Sausages such as hot dogs, bacon and sausages, which have been linked to heart disease. They are also rich in sodium, which contributes to high blood pressure.
  • Processed foods such as packaged items and fast food. These usually combine the worst of the worst and often contain refined carbohydrates, added sugars, too much salt and unhealthy saturated fats. Whenever possible, avoid processed foods.

A diet plan for metabolic syndrome

Once you’ve analyzed the processed things, you can start crafting meals around heart-healthy alternatives. “There is no specific metabolic syndrome diet,” Matteo says. “Focus on whole foods of plant origin.”

She suggests consulting the Mediteranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, seafood and olive oil. Research has linked this style of eating to weight loss and a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes and type 2 diabetes.

A healthy, balanced diet should include:


“Add more vegetables, especially starch-free vegetables, like salad vegetables, broccoli, and peppers,” Matteo says. When choosing starchy vegetables, opt for the ones with the most fiber, such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas.


Fruits are a good source of vitamins and minerals. Yes, they also have sugar, but these natural sugars are offset by the fiber found in all fresh or frozen fruit. “Because of the fiber, you digest fruit sugars more slowly,” Matteo says. Tasty, fiber-rich fruits include raspberries, blackberries, and pears.

Whole grains

Unlike processed grains that have been removed from nutrients, whole grains they are good for heart health. Foods such as wholemeal bread, barley and oats can help prevent weight gain and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids it can help raise HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol), ”says Matteo. You’ll find them in nuts, seeds and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel.

Keto diets and metabolic syndrome

Some people wonder if the trend “diet keto”It can help treat the metabolic syndrome. The answer? It depends.

The keto diet is a low carb diet that focuses on eating fat at every meal. But research on its effectiveness in losing weight is mixed. Matteo says a big downside is that most people find it hard to maintain this way of eating in the long run.

“Do you see yourself eating like this in a year, five or ten? If the answer is no, I don’t encourage this method, “he says.” If you plan to eat this way for the rest of your life, I would still recommend avoiding saturated fats and sausages. “

Can I drink diet soda if I have metabolic syndrome?

Eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages is a really important step if you have metabolic syndrome. But what about diet soda?

Some research has linked sugar substitutes in diet soda to weight gain and various health problems. But the connection is not entirely clear.

“Diet soda has a lot of bad press in the media, but it’s not as black and white,” Matteo says. “I definitely don’t recommend drinking a lot. But if it helps you get rid of sugar-sweetened drinks, I think it’s okay to drink in moderation … but water is still the drink you choose. ”

Tips for changing your eating style

Changing eating habits can be a challenge, but you don’t have to do it overnight. “Start with the baby’s footsteps,” Matteo says. “Identify a small positive change you can make first.”

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Add them before subtracting: Residing in all the foods you should avoid is a problem. Instead, focus on what you can add to make your meals healthier. “What is your favorite fruit or vegetable? Can you only add one cup or half a cup a day? “Think about where you can add healthier options, especially plant-based foods,” says Matteo.
  • Drinking water: Quenching thirst with water can help reduce cravings for soft drinks, juices or other sugary drinks. Even better? “Drink a lot of water it’s related to small weight loss, ”Matteo says.
  • Ask for help: If you are not sure where to start, ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian. “People worry about dietitians trying to take away all their favorite treats, but we all mean setting realistic goals,” Matteo adds. “We will work with you to find manageable commitments to help you achieve your health goals.”

Metabolic Syndrome Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid

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