Nuts can boost blood sugar and cholesterol health in type 2 diabetes

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A recent study by scientists at the University of Toronto found that eating nuts instead of carbohydrates may help control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.

Nuts are simple, dry fruits that contain one or two edible kernels inside a hard shell.

Common nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts.

Previous studies have shown that including nuts as part of a healthy diet can help regulate weight and protect against chronic diseases.

In this study, researchers wanted to investigate the effects of replacing carbohydrates with mixed nuts, as a source of unsaturated fat, on heart disease risk and blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

They also checked how nut consumption affected blood clotting and LDL cholesterol (also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol).

The study involved 117 older men and women with type 2 diabetes who were taking oral glucose-lowering drugs. They were assigned to one of three diets for three months:

A “full-dose nut diet” where they ate mixed nuts (75 g/day), a “full-dose muffin diet” where they ate three whole-wheat muffins (188 g/day) with similar protein content to the nuts and the same carbohydrate-derived energy content as the monounsaturated fatty acid-derived energy content in the nuts, and a “half-dose nut diet” where they ate half portions of both the nuts and muffins.

The team found that compared to the full-dose muffin diet, the full-dose nut diet provided greater total energy intake from monounsaturated fat.

The full-dose nut diet also reduced blood sugar compared to the full-dose muffin diet.

The team also found that the cholesterol levels in LDL particles were strongly decreased after the full-dose nut diet compared to the full-dose muffin diet.

The full-dose nut diet is predicted to reduce blood sugar, cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and non-HDL-cholesterol.

One participant on the half-dose nut diet was hospitalized for a heart rhythm problem after shoveling snow, but there were no other serious study-related adverse events.

The researchers concluded that nut intake as a replacement for carbohydrates improves blood sugar control and cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

They say it’s important to note that different types of nuts may provide different benefits to people with type 2 diabetes. For example, almonds are high in calcium and contain many other vitamins and minerals.

Pecans contain dietary fiber, which is great for digestion.

Macadamia nuts are high in healthy monounsaturated fat and may help maintain balanced cholesterol levels, while walnuts are high in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 essential fatty acid, which is great for the heart.

Future studies need to examine whether different types of nuts could benefit people with diabetes in different ways.

The research was published in Diabetologia and conducted by David J A Jenkins et al.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about the key cause of type 2 diabetes, and this eating habit could help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about unhealthy plant-based diets linked to metabolic syndrome, and results showing ultrasound may help reverse type 2 diabetes.

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