Go Nuts to Fight Diabetes

Type 2 diabetics eat nuts to improve blood sugar control

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) People with diabetes have to pay a lot of attention to what they put in their bodies. Some foods can hurt patients, while others can help them control the disease. Nuts may be one of those helpful foods.

Type 2 diabetics who eat nuts every day may find it easier to control blood sugar. Eating nuts may also lower levels of LDL cholesterol, known as bad cholesterol.

"Eat two ounces of nuts a day to control your diabetes."

People with type 2 diabetes have to avoid eating foods high in carbohydrates, which can raise blood sugar levels. High-carbohydrate foods include potatoes, corn, beans and grains.

David Jenkins, M.D., from the University of Toronto, wanted to see if diabetics could consume nuts in place of high-carbohydrate foods.

In an article published in the journal Diabetes Care, the researchers show that eating nuts may keep type 2 diabetes under control in addition to preventing complications caused by the disease.

Mixed, unsalted, raw or dry-roasted nuts are benefitical for controlling blood sugar and blood lipids, also known as blood fats, says Dr. Jenkins. He adds that nuts could be used as part of a strategy to help patients control their diabetes without gaining weight.

"Nuts can be a nutritious value-add to any diet if consumed organic and raw as well as in moderation," says Mark Bans, D.C., of Bans Health & Wellness (www.banswellness.com). "Nuts contain good, healthy oils and can be a good snack to help maintain blood sugar levels in between meals. The key, however, is to watch the amount of nuts eaten at any one time, as eating too many nuts can increase one's calorie intake for the day. Also, any one food that is eaten too much can possibly lead to allergies/sensitivities to that food. So, a palm-sized handful of healthy nuts is a good portion size to eat at any one sitting."

In order to study how nuts could help diabetics, Dr. Jenkins and colleagues compared three different diet supplements. A total of 117 patients with type 2 diabetes were assigned to consume muffins, mixed nuts or a combination of muffins and nuts every day for three months. The nuts included raw almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews and macadamias.

Using a test that measures blood sugar, called HbA1c, Dr. Jenkins saw that the patients in the nut-only group experienced the most improvement in blood sugar control and also lowered levels of bad cholesterol.

Patients in the muffin and combination group did not have improved blood sugar control. They did, however, reduce bad cholesterol levels.

This study suggests that nuts should be a food option for type 2 diabetics trying to lower their carbohydrate intake, says Dr. Jenkins.

This study was supported by the Canada Research Chair Endowment of the Federal Government of Canada, the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation, and the Peanut Institute. However, the researchers worked independently and without interference from the organizations that sponsored the research.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 12, 2011
Last Updated:
July 14, 2011