Possible benefit of nuts in type 2 diabetes
Nuts, including peanuts, are now recognized as having the potential to improve the blood lipid profile and, in cohort studies, nut consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). More recently, interest has grown in the potential value of including nuts in the diets of individuals with diabetes. Data from the Nurses Health Study indicates that frequent nut consumption is associated with a reduced risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Randomized controlled trials of patients with type 2 diabetes have confirmed the beneficial effects of nuts on blood lipids also seen in nondiabetic subjects, but the trials have not reported improvement in A1c or other glycated proteins. Acute feeding studies, however, have demonstrated the ability of nuts, when eaten with carbohydrate (bread), to depress postprandial glycemia. Furthermore, there was evidence of reduced postprandial oxidative stress associated with nut consumption. In terms of dietary composition, nuts have a good nutritional profile, are high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and PUFA, and are good sources of vegetable protein. Incorporation of nuts in the diet may therefore improve the overall nutritional quality of the diet. We conclude that there is justification to consider the inclusion of nuts in the diets of individuals with diabetes in view of their potential to reduce CHD risk, even though their ability to influence overall glycemic control remains to be established.