Replacing carbohydrate with nuts improves blood sugar control and heart health in adults with type 2 diabetes, new research suggests.
Canadian scientists report that eating two-and-a-half ounces (approximately 70g) of nuts a day instead of starchy carbohydrate led to significant benefits, further evidence the benefits of healthy fats for people with type 2 diabetes.
The nuts involved in the study were almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts and macadamia. Whilst cashews and pistachios are generally higher in carbohydrate, the other tree nuts are low carb.
Researchers from University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto recruited 117 adults with type 2 diabetes, none of whom took insulin, and assessed how nut consumption correlated with HbA1c and blood lipids, a marker of cardiovascular health.
They were randomised them to receive one of three diets for three months. The first diet consisted included 2.5 ounces of mixed nuts, the second included one ounce (approximately 30g) of mixed nuts and half a portion of whole wheat muffins, and the third contained a full portion of whole wheat muffins.
All of the diets contained roughly the number of calories, but those eating the larger nut portions consumed more healthy fats and less carbohydrate. Nuts are a good source unsaturated and saturated fat, and this is perfectly healthy as the fat comes from natural, unprocessed sources.
“The original findings revealed that the full dose nut group had a significant reduction in HbA1c compared to the other two groups,” revealed lead author Dr David Jenkins. “We also found lower levels of small LDL cholesterol – which is an emerging risk factor for CVD.”
Co-investigator, Cyril Kendall, Ph.D., added: “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 flavourful option for individuals with diabetes that also promote healthy body weight.”
The findings have been published in the journal Diabetologia.
Editor’s note: Nuts are a big favourite of users on our Low Carb Program, which helps people with type 2 diabetes enjoy eating healthy fats without guilt whilst lowering their blood sugar levels and losing weight. This healthy real-food way of eating can also help people with type 2 diabetes put the condition into remission.

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