Diabetes Diet: The Benefits of Eating Walnuts

Many of our favorite cookies and desserts contain walnuts. While these walnuts may be surrounded by sugars and fats we don’t need, the nuts themselves have impressive health benefits for people with diabetes.

Unless your doctor or dietitian objects, eating a few walnuts everyday is good for the heart, and helps with blood sugar and weight management.

Five Reasons To Enjoy Walnuts

  1. In one study, overweight adults with type 2 diabetes had sizable reductions in fasting insulin levels after eating a quarter cup of walnuts daily for three months (when compared to those who didn’t eat walnuts).
  2. When added to daily diets walnuts have limited the consumption of less nutritious foods, appreciably improving overall diet quality without causing weight gain. Though walnuts are high in calories they are very satiating, and actually help with appetite control.
  3. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) - found in walnuts - is a plant based omega-3 fat with anti-inflammatory properties. Eating an ounce of ALA-rich walnuts per day has been shown to support healthy cholesterol numbers and significantly lowers cardiovascular risk.
  4. Walnuts contain l-arginine, an amino acid that facilitates vascular health, and is particularly beneficial for those at increased risk for heart disease.
  5. The polyphenol antioxidants in walnuts bind to lipoproteins, inhibiting the oxidative processes that harm our cardiovascular system. Regular consumption of these antioxidants can reduce inflammation, improve lipid profiles, and endothelial (inner lining of blood vessels) function.

Since one ounce of walnuts contains four grams of protein, individuals who need to watch their protein intake should factor this into their diet plan. An ounce of walnuts also contains 9 grams carbohydrate and 18 grams of fat. It is the protein and fat content that make walnuts such an appetite-satisfying snack.

Ways To Enjoy Walnuts

There are plenty of tasty ways to supplement a diet with walnuts; for instance:

  • Use walnuts in pesto, instead of pine nuts.
  • Grind them to a flour consistency—use as walnut flour.
  • Toss walnut pieces on salads, or add to coleslaw recipes.
  • Roll some goat cheese in ground walnuts.
  • Top oatmeal with walnuts bits, or add them to your pancakes.
  • Make walnut butter: purée in the food processor until creamy.
  • Sprinkle on top of sautéed veggies such as green beans.
  • Sprinkle pieces on creamy pastas.

An ounce of walnuts equates to just above 28 grams, which is approximately the same as a small handful.

Sources: OrganiConnect; Mercola
Photo credit: Pauline Mak

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