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Eating nuts ‘can improve glycaemic control for type 2 diabetes’

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Eating tree nuts and peanuts improves blood lipid levels and blood glucose levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes, according to Canadian researchers.

They found that eating two ounces of nuts a day, as a replacement for carbohydrate foods, could improve glycemic control and blood lipids in those with type 2 diabetes.

“This study showed a modest but significant improvement in blood glucose control”

David Jenkins

The research, one of the largest studies to date on nuts and diabetes, was published today in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

The three-month trial involved 117 non-insulin dependent adults with diabetes, with a mean age of 62 years, who were all being treated with oral hypoglycemic medications.

The nut diets included almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamias and walnuts, and also peanuts.

The subjects were randomised to one of three diets for three months by the researchers from the University of Toronto and St Michael’s Hospital, also in Toronto.

The first diet included a supplement of 75g of mixed nuts, the second included 38g of mixed nuts and half portion of whole wheat muffins. The third diet contained a full portion of muffins.

“Nuts are a healthy and flavorful option for individuals with diabetes that also promote healthy body weight”

Cyril Kendall

Each supplement provided around 475 calories per 2,000 calorie diet, said the researchers. All of the diets contained roughly the same number of calories, but the nuts provided more unsaturated fat and less carbohydrate.

The goal of the study was to determine if nuts improve glycemic control in non-insulin dependent diabetes, as assessed by HbA1c, and also improve markers of cardiovascular health.

“Nut intake as a replacement for carbohydrate consumption improves glycaemic control and lipid risk factors in individuals with type 2 diabetes,” said the study authors in Diabetologia.

Dr David Jenkins, from the University of Toronto and St Michael’s Hospital, said: “The bottom line is, this study showed a modest but significant improvement in blood glucose control, despite the higher fat intake, and improvement in lipid risk factors for heart disease with increasing nut dose.”

Co-investigator Dr Cyril Kendall said: “The improvements in blood glucose control and blood lipid levels that can be achieved by dietary and lifestyle changes are significant and could make a substantial contribution to the treatment of those with type 2 diabetes.

“Nuts are a healthy and flavorful option for individuals with diabetes that also promote healthy body weight,” he added.

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