Regularly including nuts in your diet lowers body weight and waistline. Reduces the risk factors for type 2 diabetes and helps stop prediabetes metabolic syndrome.
I have posted about the benefits of nuts as part of the diabetes diet. In another more recently published study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition (Dec. 2011)*, researchers compared risk factors for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and prediabetes metabolic syndrome in people who ate nuts to people who did not eat nuts. They found that compared to people who did not eat nuts, people who ate nuts such as almonds, cashews and pistachios had a:
- lower body weight,
- lower body mass index (BMI)
- lower waist circumference
They also had a lower risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and prediabetes metabolic syndrome.
The study used data from 13,292 men and women participating in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES).
Nut eaters were defined as those who ate more than one quarter of an ounce of nuts per day.
In addition, eating nuts was also linked to a lower prevalence of four risk factors for prediabetes metabolic syndrome suggesting that nuts help to stop prediabetes.
Regular Nutrientology readers know these risk factors well:
- abdominal obesity
- high blood pressure
- high blood sugar levels
- low “good cholesterol” HDL levels
I thought it was helpful that the researchers also specifically differentiated between “nuts” and “tree nuts.” This helps to reduce the thinking of peanuts as nuts. As the smart readers of Nutrientology know, peanuts are actually legumes (a type of bean) and peanuts grow in the ground, not in trees.
Another common misconception involving nuts is the fear of their fat content. Yes, nuts do contain fats, and you should not sit down and eat a whole bag, bushel or bucket, but the fats found within tree nuts can be healthy for you. Yes, despite our cultural mantra of low-fat/no fat you do need to obtain sufficient fat in your diet to get healthy and stop prediabetes, and some fats are essential, meaning that your body must obtain them in your diet for you to continue to live.
Tree nuts – almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts – were associated with higher levels of good cholesterol and lower risk of chronic diseases including heart disease.
Again I emphasize, not all fat is bad, and there is more and more research discouraging a low fat diet. I have found them to be helpful for people as they are reducing their carbohydrate intake. During this transition between being less of a “carb-burner” and more of a “fat-burner” you need to increase your fat intake, and nuts are an easy and “clean” way to do this.
You should note that this study showed that people who ate tree nuts had lower body weight, lower BMI, and a smaller waistline compared to people that did not eat fat containing nuts. People that report eating nuts may simply just be generally more health conscious, and therefore have better health metrics, but I suspect that there is more to it than that, and that the quality and quantity of fat in their diets has a positive metabolic effect. Use this positive effect to help you stop prediabetes.
Our cultural generalization regarding dietary fat has made it a bogeyman. This dumb generalization is harming our public health. Eat real food, including some nuts, not processed refined foods from a package, and you will be eating the essential fats necessary for a healthy metabolism that stops prediabetes. If you do this, you don’t necessarily have to count calories or worry if your percentage of macronutrients (fat, protein, carb) are appropriate.
Diabetics by definition have an intolerance to carbohydrates, and need to restrict this class of food from their diet to prevent illness, and have a chance to heal (type 2). Likewise prediabetics have a similar, but more mild form of “glucose intolerance” and need to watch the carbs if they want to stop prediabetes and get their metabolism on a better footing.
*O’Neil CE, Keast DR, Nicklas TA, Fulgoni VL. Nut consumption is associated with decreased health risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome in U.S. adults: NHANES 1999-2004. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2011 Dec;30(6):502-10.