Now playing: About your Diet: Salt and Cholesterol

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About your Diet: Salt and Cholesterol

Heart disease and strokes are two to four times more common in people with diabetes than in people without. A healthy diet, low in salt and fat, can help minimize this risk.

When you have too much cholesterol in your bloodstream, it builds up in your artery walls, causing them to narrow - reducing and possibly blocking the flow of blood. If the blood flow becomes completely cut off to the heart or brain, this will lead to a heart attack or stroke.

It is important to control your blood cholesterol. Although some fat is part of a healthy diet, the type of fat you eat is important in controlling your cholesterol level.

A simple way to look at this is to break fats down into bad fats and good fats.

Fats that come from animals and some vegetable oils are often considered bad fats. These fats can quickly build up in your arteries increasing your chances of a heart attack or stroke.

Your body does require some fat. Small amounts of good fats such as nuts, seeds and oily fish are part of a healthy diet but they should be consumed in moderation.

A key factor leading to heart and stroke is high blood pressure. When you eat foods high in salt, your blood pressure increases putting a strain on your arteries.

With high blood pressure, your heart pumps harder to circulate blood. This causes damage to your heart and blood vessels throughout the body leading to complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, impaired vision and aneurysms.

A substantial amount salt intake comes in packaged food. Read food labels closely, looking for foods with little or no added salt, often referred to, as sodium.

A healthy lifestyle, including regular activity, and a diet low in fat and salt, along with taking your prescribed medication, can help control your cholesterol level and lower your blood pressure. This can reduce the chance of developing complications related to these conditions.

Last modified: 2012-03-06