Nuts: A Nutritional Superstar for Diabetes

Individuals who consume tree nuts on a regular basis reduce their risk not just for type 2 diabetes, but for metabolic syndrome and heart disease as well, according to researchers at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. 

The study, funded by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation, was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Researchers followed more than 13,000 adults and learned that those who ate nuts regularly were less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes.

It's important to keep in mind that nuts are high in calories and fat. Just one-third cup of walnuts has 220 calories and one-third cup of macadamias has 320 calories. "No matter how good they taste—and how good they are for you—you shouldn't overdo it," says Carly Trueger, RD, CDE, of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill-Cornell Medical Center. "A small handful—an amount that can fit in the palm of your hand—is an ideal portion size."

Although the study was observational rather than cause-and-effect, it was a very large study, notes Kathleen Barbera, RD, CDE, nutritionist in the Division of Endocrinology at North Shore-LIF Health System in Manhasset, NY. "It's good, solid data," she says.

But she reiterates what Trueger says about portion size: "Keep in mind that the people in the study who enjoyed the health benefits ate only about an ounce of nuts. If you start to add a lot of nuts to your diet, you're adding 600 calories and not helping yourself."

Nuts are rich in healthy, unsaturated fat, and they contain fiber, vitamin E, and trace minerals such as selenium.

7 Ways to Add Nuts to Your Diet

  1. Chop and sprinkle them on yogurt, hot or cold cereal, or stir some into cottage cheese.
  2. Mix nuts with popcorn or dried fruit for a filling, fiber-rich snack.
  3. Chop, toast, then add nuts to steamed vegetables for some extra crunch. You'll be surprised how nuts can turn a plain veggie dish into something special.
  4. Spread almond butter sparingly onto a waffle in place of syrup, or substitute almond butter for peanut butter in a PBJ.
  5. Try crushing nuts in a food processor and using them as a coating for chicken or fish. The coating has a rich, toasty flavor when the chicken or fish is baked or sautéed.
  6. For optimal nutrition, choose your nuts carefully. Almonds and walnuts are especially good for you, Trueger says. "They're rich in fiber and omega-3s," she says.
  7. For optimal flavor, try either toasting them in a small skillet on top of the stove or roasting them in the oven.




"Nuts linked with lower diabetes, heart disease risks: study" 15 April 2012. Huffington Post.

"Nut consumption is associated with decreased health risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome in U.S. adults."