While keeping your heart healthy is important no matter the general state of your health, it’s especially vital for people with diabetes. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for diabetic individuals over age 65, and maintaining a healthy heart involves following an antioxidant-rich diet that includes appropriate levels of Vitamin E.
How does Vitamin E impact the heart health of diabetic individuals? Here’s a look at the science that links Vitamin E to positive heart health benefits for diabetic individuals, specifically.
Diabetes patients are paving the way for better understanding
Vitamin E is well-known as an antioxidant, but many scientists feel that its true value for the body has yet to be fully discovered. A 2013 study aimed to explore the link between Vitamin E levels and cardiovascular health in patients with diabetes mellitus. A quote from the study highlights the changing opinions regarding Vitamin E while suggesting significant benefits for people with diabetes mellitus:
“While the pendulum of medical opinion has swung to suggest that high dose vitamin E supplements have no place in the treatment and prevention of CV [cardiovascular] disease, new data is emerging that allows identification of a specific target population for this treatment, namely patients with diabetes mellitus and the haptoglobin genotype 2-2.”
Results of the study suggest there are significant links between healthy Vitamin E levels and better cardiovascular outcomes for patients with diabetes mellitus. Scientists suggest that further study could benefit specific populations in terms of the therapeutic benefits of Vitamin E.
Diabetes and a heart-healthy diet
People with diabetes need to keep their blood glucose levels in check by regulating caloric and fat intake. Failing to maintain appropriate blood glucose levels can lead to heart disease, which causes death in nearly 7 in 10 people with diabetes over age 65. Making smart, heart-healthy food choices is the key to keeping blood glucose levels within the desired range.
Heart-healthy foods reduce blood pressure, overall cholesterol, LDLs, triglycerides and fasting blood sugar. Many of the most beneficial heart-healthy foods also contain high levels of antioxidants, including Vitamin E, protecting cells throughout the body from oxidative stress and inflammation that can lead to the development of heart disease.
If you’re looking to follow a heart-healthy regimen, incorporate the following foods into your diet:
- Leafy greens. Kale, lettuce, spinach and collard greens are low in calories but packed with nutrients, including Vitamin E.
- Cold-water fish. Salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel and trout are heart-healthy and delicious. They lower triglycerides in the blood and contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids that promote better heart health.
- Nuts. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts and macadamia nuts are a delicious snack that contain significant levels of vitamins and minerals. Nuts are also rich sources of Vitamin E, giving your body an antioxidant boost, along with heart-healthy fats. As nuts are high in calories, you should eat in moderation. Aim for around 5 servings per week.
- Whole grains. Whole grains are higher in fiber and lack the high sugar levels of refined grains. Choose whole-grain bread, pasta and brown rice to keep cholesterol and blood pressure low and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Herbs and spices. Keep blood pressure at healthy levels by reducing your sodium intake. Instead, use herbs and spices to add flavor to food to keep sodium intake as low as possible.
- Avocado. This delicious fruit is highly versatile and offers plenty of heart-healthy benefits. It’s particularly rich in monounsaturated fats, which are directly linked to reduced risk of heart disease. It’s also rich in antioxidants, particularly Vitamin E.
Vitamin E can also improve glycemic control
In a 2004 study of overweight subjects, researchers investigated the link between oxidative stress and insulin resistance. The study tested the hypothesis that Vitamin E improves insulin sensitivity in overweight individuals and found that plasma peroxides significantly decreased when subjects received increased doses of Vitamin E.
Overall, findings indicated that Vitamin E reduces oxidative stress on the body and improves insulin resistance, although more research is needed.
Diabetics and other sub-populations offer opportunity for research
The full range of Vitamin E’s beneficial effects are still murky, but a variety of studies are unlocking unique advantages for specific populations. Diabetics offer an opportunity for scientists to study how this condition affects Vitamin E levels, and how the antioxidant properties of the nutrient can improve cardiovascular outcomes and prevent the onset of heart disease.
While more research is needed, the response of diabetic patients to Vitamin E may hold the key to using the vitamin in other treatments that address health concerns involving oxidation.