A diet consisting of daily servings of nuts helps manage diabetes. Nuts help control glucose levels and improve the body’s response to insulin, and the healthy fats in nuts, especially walnuts and peanuts, promote cardiovascular health and weight loss — important for diabetics trying to avoid serious health complications.
1. Walnuts help prevent cardiovascular disease. In a 6-month study published in Diabetes Care, participants eating walnuts significantly increased their ratios of HDL (good) cholesterol to total cholesterol levels and reduced their LDL (bad) cholesterol by 10%. Walnuts are exceptionally high in beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids and low in harmful omega-6 fatty acids. In fact, walnuts have the lowest ratio of harmful omega-6 to omega-3 of any other nut — 4:1 — followed by macadamia nuts, which have a 6:1 ratio. The ideal is 1:1.
This is important because a diet rich in omega-3s helps prevent the blood clotting and plaque buildup that lead to chronic inflammation and atherosclerosis. According to a Spanish study of adults with high cholesterol levels, those who ate walnuts were able to reduce their total cholesterol readings by 4.4-7.4%, and their LDL (bad) cholesterol by 6.4-10%. One-quarter cup of walnuts provides an astonishing 90.8% of your Daily Value (DV) for omega-3s.
2.Walnuts keep your heart healthy. According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, walnuts, pecans and chestnuts are exceptionally high in antioxidants, which can lower the risk for coronary heart disease that often results from having diabetes. In a study published in Phytochemistry, researchers identified 16 different antioxidant polyphenols in walnuts, an antioxidant content they describe as “remarkable.” Four large studies — the Adventist Health Study, Iowa Women’s Study, Nurses’ Health Study and the Physician’s Study — found that those who ate nuts at least 4 times a week lowered their risk for coronary heart disease by an amazing 37%.
3. Peanuts are rich in healthy fats. Peanuts (technically a legume, not a nut) contain oleic acid, the same healthy fat found in olive oil; they are also high in vitamin E and other powerful antioxidants. A study published in the journal Food Chemistry found that peanuts contain high concentrations of an antioxidant polyphenol called p-coumaric acid, and slow roasting (170 degrees for 20 minutes) can increase that content by 22%.
4. Peanuts are a heart-healthy choice. Peanuts are also high in the flavonoid resveratrol. Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in red grapes and red wine that has been linked to what has been dubbed the “French Paradox,” which found that eating a diet high in certain fats, a la Francaise, can actually benefit your heart. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, resveratrol improves blood blow to the brain by as much as 30%, significantly reducing the risk of stroke, a key issue for people with diabetes.
5. Store peanuts with care. Be careful how you store peanuts because they are susceptible to mold and fungus, including one that is a known carcinogen. To discourage fungal growth and prevent nuts from going rancid, store raw peanuts — and all nuts — in the refrigerator. Avoid the “bulk bins” for nuts unless you are sure they are emptied and cleaned frequently, and stick to organic, raw or dry roasted, and lightly salted or salt-free nuts.