Nuts instead of carbs may aid diabetes control: study

Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:34pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Replacing that daily muffin with a handful or two of nuts may help people with diabetes better control their blood sugar and cholesterol levels, according to a study.

When people with type 2 diabetes replaced some of their usual carbohydrates with about a half-cup of mixed nuts each day, their blood sugar and "bad" cholesterol levels dipped slightly over three months, researchers wrote in the journal Diabetes Care.

By contrast, no such improvements were seen among people who swapped their normal carbs for a daily whole-wheat muffin.

While the findings don't mean that nuts are the key to diabetes control, they can be part of a healthy diet, said Cyril Kendall of the University of Toronto in Canada, one of the researchers involved.

"We should be focusing on overall diet and lifestyle," Kendall told Reuters Health.

"They (nuts) have a lot of fat, but we now realize that those fats are healthy ones," he said, referring to the unsaturated fats that have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and other health benefits.

Still, nuts are high in calories, and people with diabetes should not simply add a handful to their usual diet but should use them in place of less healthy snacks, Kendall said.

For the study, 117 adults with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group was given unsalted mixed nuts and told to eat them instead of some of their usual carbs, a second group replaced their normal carbs with "healthy" whole-wheat muffins with no added sugar, and the third group went on a half-nut, half-muffin regimen.

The "full-nut" group ate, on average, about 2 ounces, or a half cup, of nuts per day, totaling roughly 475 calories.   Continued...

<p>A labourer crushes raw almonds with his feet inside a small-scale factory unit in New Delhi January 15, 2011. REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma</p>