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Studies Show Nuts Can Help Control Blood Sugar

Shay Morrigan | April 19th, 2013

Diabetes Diet PlanRecent research reviewing the results of 20 studies confirms that a change in diet can help lower blood sugar and promote weight loss in people with diabetes. This re-affirms the position that many physicians, including Dr. Michael Kaplan, founder of The Center for Medical Weight Loss, have promoted in recent years. Dr. Kaplan’s weight loss program is based on the idea that smart, personalized diet and exercise plans help not only manage diabetes, but in some cases, reduce or even eliminate a patient’s reliance on diabetic medications.

But what exactly should be included in a diabetic diet? According to recent studies, one important component may be healthy fats. “Studies indicate that a good diabetic diet should include nuts, specifically walnuts, which are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids,” Dr. Kaplan advises.

Walnuts may be a good addition to a diabetic diet

The latest research on walnuts and blood sugar levels was published online February 20, 2013, in the Journal of Nutrition. Scientists examined data from two large cohort studies: the Nurses’ Health Study and the Nurses’ Health Study II. These studies involved 58,063 women age 52-77, and 79,893 women aged 35-52, respectively. None of the participants had diabetes at the beginning of the study, and all answered questions about their diet and health between 1998 and 2009.

After examining the data, the researchers concluded that eating walnuts two to three times a week was associated with a 24 percent reduced risk of developing type II diabetes. “Our results suggest that higher walnut consumption is associated with a significantly lower risk of type II diabetes in women,” the researchers wrote.

Other studies indicate nuts should be included in any diabetes diet plan

This isn’t the first study to suggest that nuts may have a protective benefit against type II diabetes, and may be a good addition to any diabetes diet plan. In 2008, for example, the same journal published a study concluding that those with diabetes should consider adding nuts to their diabetes diet plan. There is evidence they can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is generally higher in those with diabetes.

Another study published in July 2011 reported that eating two ounces of nuts a day as a replacement for carbohydrates helped control blood sugar in people with type II diabetes. Scientists provided three different diet supplements to participants with the disease:

  • One group received muffins
  • The second group was given a mixture of nuts including raw almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, and macadamias
  • The third group was given a mixture of muffins and nuts.

The “nut only” group reported the greatest improvement in blood sugar control. They also experienced a reduction in LDL “bad” cholesterol. In fact, this group reduced their HbA1c (the long-term marker of glycemic control) by two-thirds the level considered “clinically meaningful for therapeutic agents” by the FDA.

“The study indicates that nuts can provide a specific food option for people with type II diabetes wishing to reduce their carbohydrate intake,” said Dr. David Jenkins, lead author of the study.

Managing diabetes through lifestyle changes

If you’re interested in gaining control of your type II diabetes through a new diabetic diet, or have questions about increasing your intake of healthy nuts, the physicians at The Center for Medical Weight Loss are available to help. There are over 450 locations nationwide.