Tree Nut Benefits For Those With Diabetes
You need to heed your doctor’s dietary advice and make diabetes management a priority, but do not avoid eating nuts just because you think they cause weight gain.
Research indicates the opposite is true, that consuming nuts regularly promotes weight loss, and is associated with heart health and a reduced risk for diabetes.
Pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts contain an amino acid called l-arginine, known to support cardiovascular health. Plus, those who partake of nuts tend to have lower blood pressure and fewer metabolic syndrome risk factors (e.g., abdominal fat, high fasting glucose).
Tree Nut Nutrition
Macadamias and Pecans
Tree nuts generally contain a good balance of healthy fats, quality protein, and carbs. Pecans and macadamia nuts, for instance, each provide high levels of healthy fat with smaller amounts of carbs and protein.
More than half of the fatty acids in macadamia nuts is the heart healthy monounsaturated fat oleic acid—comparable to the beneficial fat content of olives. Macadamias are also a rich source manganese, magnesium, and thiamin.
Luscious pecans are bursting with 19 plus minerals and vitamins, and research suggests they help lower LDL cholesterol and support arterial health.
Snacking on a quarter cup of walnuts gives a day's worth of omega-3 fatty acids, plus plenty of copper, manganese, and biotin. The walnut’s skin, though some people find it bitter, is dripping with antioxidants. To get the most from a walnut, we should eat them with the skin intact.
An almond’s skin is also full of antioxidants (e.g., phenols, flavonoids), those usually gotten from fruits and veggies. Just an ounce of these flavorful nuts gives us about the same amount of polyphenols (plant nutrients) as a cup of green tea.
Pistachios and More
People with diabetes can especially benefit from enjoying pistachios, though these nuts have more carbohydrate and less healthy fat than some others. The benefit comes from pistachios’ great store of lutein, beta-carotene, and vitamin E. Eating a serving or two each day also reduces oxidized LDL cholesterol in those with high levels.
Cashews are full of healthy fats as well, but like pistachios contain more carbs than other nuts. Pine nuts have about the same fat/protein/carb ratio as pecans and macadamias.
To get the most benefit from any tree nut, snacking on the raw and organic variety is recommended.
With diabetes, caution is the better part of wisdom. Before making any changes to a diet that is already managing your diabetes well, consult with your doctor.
Having said that, making tree nuts a regular part of your diet seems worth the expense and any dietary tweaking necessary. Nuts not only give us valuable nutrients they may add years to our life.
“Even those who ate nuts less than once a week had a seven percent reduction in risk [of dying for any reason]," reported the Washington Post about a 30 year Harvard study on nut consumption. "Consuming nuts at least five times a week corresponded to a 20 percent drop in mortality risk for heart disease, a 24 percent decline for respiratory disease and an 11 percent drop for cancer."