Can Nuts Lower Blood Sugar?

Blood sugar control is a vital part of diabetes management. Managing your blood sugar level doesn’t simply mean cutting out a few specific foods or groups of foods. 

Instead, it’s about understanding how foods affect your blood sugar levels and consuming them in combinations that improve your blood glucose level and overall health. 

For example, nuts have proved their benefits in lowering blood sugar and providing us with plenty of other health benefits. 

Health care professionals measure variations in blood sugar levels through hemoglobin testing. 

Unlike home blood glucose tests, which take a snapshot of your blood sugar level at that moment in time, the best way to have an accurate picture of your blood sugar levels over the past couple of months is the measurements of HBA1C. 

In 2011, a research study was conducted at the University of Toronto to determine the correlation between nut consumption and blood sugar levels. The study showed that consuming 75 grams of nuts daily, or just under 3 ounces, led to a considerable reduction in HbA1C levels, i.e., 0.21%.

What are nuts?

Are nut seeds, fruits, or legumes? In the culinary world, the answer is “yes” to all these names. Although the botanical definition of a nut is quite specific, the culinary use of the word “nut” is rather general. 

While almonds, pistachio, walnuts, and cashews are basically seeds, peanuts are simply legumes. Meanwhile, hazelnuts are considered a proper botanical nut.

By definition, nuts are seeds and dry fruits found inside a hard outer covering. Nuts have common features: oily, tender flesh surrounded by a hard outer shell. 

They’re used in a wide range of recipes, from baked goods to granola, and work as a quick snack when eaten out of hand.

You can purchase nuts raw, either in-shell or pre-shelled. 

Whole nuts with the shell intact are a favorite item during the winter or holiday season. They are easy to store at room temperature or in a refrigerator. You should always keep them away from heat and moisture. 

Natural nut oils are soft and can go rancid quickly. If a nut has a bitter or off-flavor, you shouldn’t use it. 

Types of nuts

There are so many types of nuts adding texture, crunch, and flavor to so many of our special dishes and recipes. Their small size belies their role as an important ingredient-they’re something to be reckoned with! Peanuts, almonds, pecans, and walnuts are the most common nuts consumed in the United Kingdom. 

Almost all of the nuts have some fat.  Almonds are on the lower side with 15 grams per ounce, dry-roasted and unsalted. And macadamia nuts are on the higher side at 21 grams per ounce, dry-roasted and unsalted. 

But, they contain a valuable amount of good monounsaturated fats and omega-3s, for heart health, as well as fiber and vitamin E, especially important for vegetarians and vegans. Consequently, they are considered to be inherently healthy. 

Here is a list of the most common nuts people consume:

  • Peanuts

  • Almonds

  • Pistachios

  • Hazelnuts

  • Cashews

  • Walnuts

  • Marcona Almonds

  • Macadamia Nuts

  • Pecans

Nutritional value of nuts

As every nut is different, the nutritional value of each nut also varies. Generally, nuts are enriched with fats, ranging from 50 to 73 grams of fat per 100 grams. 

However, the fatty acids contained in nuts are predominantly unsaturated fatty acids, also called healthy fatty acids. These fatty acids possess anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, they play a protective role for our bodies. 

Can Nuts lower blood sugar?

Lifestyle plays an important role in managing type 2 diabetes, with diet being a significant factor. A healthy diet can help control blood sugar levels and can minimize the risk of diabetes complications

Nuts are enriched with healthy fats and provide an alternative source of energy for the human body. By consuming nuts, you can minimize the desire to eat carbohydrates. In this way, nuts help you avoid eating a chunk of carbohydrates and risk increasing your blood sugar levels. 

Nuts also decrease insulin resistance leading to better glycemic control. However, some nuts are particularly beneficial for people with diabetes. Almost all nuts have health benefits. 

brazil nuts benefits

These nuts include: 

  • Almonds 

  • Walnuts

  • Pistachios

  • Peanuts

  • Cashews

A study in 25 people with type 2 diabetes proved that consuming peanuts and almonds throughout the day as part of a low-carb diet decreased fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels. 

However, not all nuts are helpful for individuals with diabetes. For example, it is important to avoid salted nuts because the salt in such nuts can increase the risk of complications instead of providing benefits.

Other foods that lower blood sugar

In addition to nuts, some other foods play an important role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. 

regulate-blood-sugar

These foods are: 

  • Non-starchy vegetables

  • Fatty fish

  • Eggs 

  • Leafy greens

  • Apple cider vinegar

  • Strawberries

  • Probiotic packed dairy products

  • Broccoli sprouts

  • Chia seed

  • Seafood

Some other foods such as yogurt, brown rice can also be beneficial in lowering your blood glucose level. 

Other health benefits of nuts

Nuts are nutritious food containing essential vitamins and minerals the body needs. They’re one of the rich sources of ALA omega-3 fatty acids, offering plenty of health benefits ranging from reducing rheumatoid arthritis to protecting against Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Healthcare professionals have listed many other reasons to add nuts to your diet, including: 

1) Weight Loss

Nuts are largely composed of fats, which might seem contradictory to weight loss. 

However, as stated above, the fats present in nuts are almost entirely unsaturated, meaning that they make you feel more satisfied even after little eating, consequently helping you eat less over time. 

Studies have even demonstrated that people who eat nuts regularly have a decreased risk of gaining weight compared to those who don’t consume nuts.  

2) Prevent Heart Disease

Many studies show that nuts are beneficial for heart health. Consuming nuts at least four times a week is associated with fewer cases of cardiac diseases and myocardial infarctions. 

3) Improve Cholesterol

Nuts also play an important role in maintaining cholesterol. Scientists have found a direct correlation between eating nuts and a decrease in LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body. 

Improved cholesterol decreases the risk of suffering from stroke or cardiovascular diseases. 

4) High in Antioxidants

Nuts are also rich in antioxidants, which are the compounds in food that help repair damaged and worn-out cells. Antioxidants possess strong anti-inflammatory properties. 

Many age-related diseases are caused by chronic inflammation and stress, so naturally, antioxidants make a big difference. 

A review study for antioxidants demonstrated that older adults who consumed nuts had a lower risk of developing cancer or cognitive disorders, along with diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases.

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Adding nuts to your diet

Nuts are healthy, but you should consume them proportionately to prevent calorie overload and use them as meal enhancers. 

Nuts can be considered as forbidden fruit to dieters. A heaping handful might fill up to 10% of the daily caloric needs for the average person. 

Nuts can jazz up salads and many dishes, adding crunchy flavor. You can consume nuts in many ways; raw, with shell, or without the shell. 

The key is to eat nuts in a way that delivers health benefits without any side effects. They are easy to eat on their own or blend into various dishes and salads.

According to health experts, nuts are a great source of good fats and proteins, but you shouldn’t add them to everything that you eat. 

Safety concerns of eating nuts

We already discussed how nuts are incredibly healthy. But there are a few potential safety concerns if you have too much. 

Some of the main concerts that you should keep in mind are: 

  • Weight gain 

  • Digestive problems such as gas and bloating 

  • Selenium poisoning

  • Allergy including skin irritation 

  • Respiratory problems

Conclusion

Nuts are richly nutritious food. They are enriched with fats such as omega 3 fatty acids. Almost all types of nuts are healthy food. 

They can lower blood sugar levels and help in the prevention of diabetes mellitus. 

They are also beneficial in many other ways, such as weight loss and the prevention of heart diseases and stroke. You can consult a nutritionist for further guidance about nuts and their impact on your health before adding them to your diabetes diet

Next Up

blood-sugar-control

Find out ​​15 Ways to Effectively Control Blood Sugar.

Sources

  1. Hou, Y. Y., Ojo, O., Wang, L. L., Wang, Q., Jiang, Q., Shao, X. Y., & Wang, X. H. (2018). A Randomized Controlled Trial to Compare the Effect of Peanuts and Almonds on the Cardio-Metabolic and Inflammatory Parameters in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Nutrients, 10(11), 1565. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111565
  2. Eneroth, H., Wallin, S., Leander, K., Nilsson Sommar, J., & Åkesson, A. (2017). Risks and Benefits of Increased Nut Consumption: Cardiovascular Health Benefits Outweigh the Burden of Carcinogenic Effects Attributed to Aflatoxin B₁ Exposure. Nutrients, 9(12), 1355. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9121355
  3. Kendall, C. W., Esfahani, A., Truan, J., Srichaikul, K., & Jenkins, D. J. (2010). Health benefits of nuts in prevention and management of diabetes. Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition, 19(1), 110–116.
  4. Parham, M., Heidari, S., Khorramirad, A., Hozoori, M., Hosseinzadeh, F., Bakhtyari, L., & Vafaeimanesh, J. (2014). Effects of pistachio nut supplementation on blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized crossover trial. The review of diabetic studies: RDS, 11(2), 190–196. https://doi.org/10.1900/RDS.2014.11.190
  5. Mazidi, M., Vatanparast, H., Katsiki, N., & Banach, M. (2018). The impact of nuts consumption on glucose/insulin homeostasis and inflammation markers mediated by adiposity factors among American adults. Oncotarget, 9(58), 31173–31186. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25168
  6. Hernández-Alonso, P., Camacho-Barcia, L., Bulló, M., & Salas-Salvadó, J. (2017). Nuts and Dried Fruits: An Update of Their Beneficial Effects on Type 2 Diabetes. Nutrients, 9(7), 673. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9070673
  7. Megías-Rangil, I., García-Lorda, P., Torres-Moreno, M., Bulló, M., & Salas-Salvadó, J. (2004). [Nutrient content and health effects of nuts]. 
  8. Ros E. (2010). Health benefits of nut consumption. Nutrients, 2(7), 652–682. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu2070652
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Dr. Kashif Raza

Dr. Kashif Raza MD is working as PGR (Post Graduate Resident/Registrar) of Internal Medicine in Nishtar Hospital Multan. He belongs to the rare progeny of healthcare professionals registered with the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) as Registered Medical Practitioners (RMPs). In his free time, he’s a reader and a curious researcher.

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