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Got Diabetes and High Blood Pressure? 9 Diet Tips

By Stephanie Booth
WebMD Feature

Two out of three people with diabetes also have high blood pressure. Keeping your diet in check -- counting carbs, limiting sugar, eating less salt -- is key. You can still eat well and manage your conditions with these easy tips.

1. Get zesty.

Since you have high blood pressure, you should get no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. That's less than a teaspoon.

So retrain taste buds. Instead of reaching for the saltshaker, flavor food with citrus zest, garlic, rosemary, ginger, jalapeno peppers, oregano, or cumin.

Cooking at home also helps. “If you’re eating something from a bag or box or off a restaurant menu, chances are you’re getting too much sodium,” says Janet Bond Brill, PhD, RD, author of Blood Pressure Down.

2. Clock your meals.

To get in the habit of having a balanced diet, “visualize your plate as a clock,” says Amber L. Taylor, MD, who directs The Diabetes Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. A quarter gets lean protein like baked fish, beans, or chicken. The last quarter holds grains, preferably whole, like brown rice.

You’ll still need to count carbohydrates and make sure you're not getting too much sodium.

3. Rethink your coffee drink.

Caffeine can raise your blood sugar and blood pressure. If you have higher blood sugar or blood pressure after drinking coffee, “limit your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams -- about 2 cups of coffee -- a day,” says Torey Jones Armul, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Skip the French press or espresso and choose coffee made with a paper filter. The paper soaks up an oily compound in coffee beans called cafestol, which can hike up cholesterol.

You can also consider switching to decaf. “Some research suggests it can reduce blood sugar,” Armul says.

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