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Research Corner: Nuts in the Diabetes Meal Plan – A Healthy Alternative

Recent research confirms that replacing some carbohydrate calories with nuts may have a health benefit for people with Type 2 Diabetes.

Tip to take away:

Getting more of your calories from healthy sources of fat, such as nuts, instead of from carbohydrates can help with blood glucose management and cholesterol levels. Try including a small handful of nuts in place of 1 to 2 servings of carbs (1-2 slices of bread) in your diabetes meal plan.

Study Summary:

This study included 117 people with type 2 diabetes to determine if there are potential health benefits in substituting nuts for some of the calories that would otherwise come from carbohydrates. Subjects were randomly placed in one of three different groups. Each group was given a supplement for 3 months consisting of either mixed nuts, muffins, or half portions of both, to provide 475 of their daily calories.

The subjects had their HbA1C levels and LDL cholesterol levels checked before and after the 3-month treatment. It was found that the group which consumed a full dose of 2 ounces of mixed nuts, but not the half-nut dose or muffin group, had a significant decrease in both their HbA1C and LDL cholesterol levels.

This study indicates that foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, specifically nuts, can help improve glycemic control and serum lipid levels in people with type 2 diabetes, if substituted for carbohydrate calories.  It’s important to note that the nuts were substituted for carb calories in the diet.  If you plan to add nuts to your current diabetes meal plan, you will need to adjust your portion sizes or eliminate a serving of carbohydrate in order to maintain the calorie level of your meal plan.

Reference:

Jenkins, D.J.A., C.W.C. Kendall, M.S. Banach, K. Srichaikul, E. Vidgen, S. Mitchell, T. Parker, S. Nishi, B. Bashyam, R. de Souza, C. Ireland, R.G. Josse, 2011. Nuts as a replacement for carbohydrates in the diabetic diet. Diabetes Care. 34:1-6. doi: 10.2337/dc11-0338

Abstract available at:

http://care.diabetesjournals.org.proxy.lib.umich.edu/content/34/8/1706.abstract

For more information:

http://www.nuthealth.org/

http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/fat-and-diabetes.html

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