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Metabolic Syndrome Diet: What to Eat and Avoid

<p>Metabolic Syndrome Diet: What to Eat and Avoid</p>
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 6 min read

Many people want to lose weight. For some people, going on a diet means cutting calories and increasing your physical activity. For those with metabolic syndrome, there is another type of diet—the metabolic syndrome diet.

The goal of the metabolic syndrome diet is to manage your metabolic abnormalities and reduce your saturated fat and calorie intake. 

What is metabolic syndrome? 

Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term for a combination of conditions that raise your risk of conditions, such as stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Also referred to as insulin resistance syndrome, metabolic syndrome raises your risk for a number of other health problems. These include the following:

  • High blood pressure. 

High blood pressure is one of the hallmarks of metabolic syndrome. Having high blood pressure for an extended period of time can damage your blood vessels and your heart. Having high blood pressure can cause a substance called plaque to build up in your arteries. Over time, this makes it more likely that you will suffer a stroke or heart attack. 

  • A larger waist. This refers to obesity or having an excess buildup of belly fat. Having extra fat in your abdomen is more dangerous than having fat on other parts of your body. Having excess abdominal fat significantly increases your chances of developing heart disease. 

  • High blood triglyceride levels. High blood triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Triglycerides are a type of fat that exists in your blood. Having high levels of triglycerides can raise your chances of developing high cholesterol. 

  • Low good cholesterol levels. Good cholesterol is essential to maintaining good heart health. Good cholesterol takes bad cholesterol out of your blood vessels, improving your overall health. While having one of these conditions does not indicate that you have metabolic syndrome, having at least one of these problems raises your risk for metabolic syndrome. 

While metabolic syndrome is serious and can lead to a number of problems, following the metabolic syndrome diet can help counteract the problems caused by this condition. For this diet to work, you must avoid foods that pose a problem to your condition. 

Before you start this diet, doctors recommend that you focus on identifying what foods you need to cut from your diet. The first and potentially one of the most important foods to cut is sugar. Sugar and foods that do not contribute to good health should be cut out first. Sugary foods include refined carbohydrates, such as bakery goods and artificially sweetened drinks. 

Foods such as bacon and deli meats should also be avoided or cut from your diet entirely. These foods are believed to cause heart disease and other health issues. Meats are loaded with sodium and pose a risk to your blood pressure. These foods can also cause hypertension. 

Processed food and fast food should be eliminated from your diet as well. Fried and greasy foods contain the worst possible ingredients for your body, and should be cut as well. They contain a lot of sugars, refined carbohydrates, and salt. 

These foods are also high in saturated fat, which raises your risk for stroke and heart disease. According to Medline Plus, your body needs fat to carry out its essential functions, but too much of it can raise your bad cholesterol. This is a problem, especially since high bad cholesterol is a feature of metabolic syndrome. 

Saturated fat also contributes to weight gain, so eliminating it from your diet will improve your overall health. According to experts, all fats contain nine calories per gram, which is double the number of calories you find in one gram of carbohydrates. 

The key to staying healthy with metabolic syndrome is to cut all processed food and foods that pose a problem to your health. Once you have established which foods you should cut from your diet, it is important to focus on what foods you should eat. Experts recommend looking into the Mediterranean Diet, because it requires you to eat vegetables, fruits, and olive oil. 


Eating healthy foods like fruit reduces your risk of having a heart attack and makes it easier to lose weight. Fruits are a healthy food. While they do contain some sugar, fruits are rich in fiber. This “offsets” the negative effects of sugar. Fruit contains high amounts of fiber, so it makes you feel full. The sugar in fruit is digested slowly when it is combined with fiber.      


Eating vegetables as part of the metabolic syndrome diet has a number of benefits. First of all, vegetables are high in fiber, which makes you feel full. Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, peppers, and salad greens are especially good for those on the metabolic syndrome diet. However, it is even more beneficial to eat beans, chickpeas, and lentils. 

Whole grains

It is also important to load up on whole-grain foods. Whole-grain pasta casserole and whole-grain pita wraps with chicken and hummus are great options for those on the metabolic syndrome diet. Be sure to include leafy grains and salad greens with whole grain foods. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to good health. If you’re on the metabolic syndrome diet, experts recommend focusing on foods containing omega-3 fatty acids. These foods lower bad cholesterol. Examples of foods containing omega-3 fatty acids include seeds, nuts, mackerel, and salmon. Fish is an especially good source of omega-3 fatty acids. 

A six-ounce serving of salmon contains a whopping 4,504 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. Anchovy, clams, and lobster are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and help greatly if you have metabolic syndrome. Once you’ve determined what foods you should and should not eat, you need to implement your new diet plan. 

The true key to sticking to your diet is changing your eating habits. Instead of mourning the fact that you can’t eat sugar, determine what you can add to your food to make it taste better. 

Ideally, you want to focus on healthy foods you enjoy. You could, for example, add some of your favorite vegetables to a salad, and make it more appealing to you. In a sense, this gives you the motivation to eat the healthy new foods that you’ve added to your palate. 

 It is a good idea to focus on plant-based foods. However, it’s also important to focus on lean meats, such as chicken. To maximize your success, it may help to replace sugary drinks with water. While water may not be as tasty as other drinks, it is great for facilitating weight loss. Plus, the weight of water can also make you feel full. This can help you lose a small amount of weight.

It may also help to eat a number of different vegetables on the metabolic syndrome diet. You may have your favorite vegetables. However, it’s important to include a variety of different vegetables in your diet. Take this into consideration when you fill up your plate, as vegetables have different nutrients that serve a number of purposes.

If you have metabolic syndrome, it is important to know how different foods affect you. Some foods can make you feel sluggish. However, if you enjoy these foods, you may not consider the negative effects they are having on you. It may help to identify these foods, if possible. The next step would be to remove these foods from your diet.

There are a number of ways you can monitor your glucose levels when you have metabolic syndrome. One way to do that is to weigh yourself regularly. If you weigh more than average, chances are that your metabolic health is taking a hit.  

According to PubMed, metabolic syndrome is a global epidemic and has become one of the most pervasive medical conditions in the world. Metabolic syndrome is more common in urban areas. 

While it is important to know the best foods for those with metabolic syndrome, it is important to know what foods are the worst for people with the condition. According to experts, some of the worst foods for metabolic syndrome are the foods people love most. This includes processed foods, such as cookies, crackers, and potato chips. 

Boxed meals are one of the worst foods for people with this condition. In addition, these foods can lead to conditions like heart disease and potentially Alzheimer’s Disease. Some foods that people deem healthy may be bad for those with metabolic syndrome. These include natural foods, such as refined seed oil, corn oil, canola oil, and soybean oil. Because these foods are highly processed, they have the ability to cause weight gain and potentially, heart disease.

Some of the best diet regimens for those with metabolic syndrome are the most popular diets. The Keto Diet and low carbohydrate diets have been proven effective in helping people manage metabolic syndrome. The Paleo and Mediterranean diets are also beneficial. The Keto diet focuses primarily on cutting carbohydrates and increasing your fat intake. The goal of this diet is to get your body in a state of ketosis.

The low carb diet, on the other hand, focuses primarily on minimizing your consumption of carbohydrates, thus minimizing the number of calories you get from carbohydrates.         



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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.