The tasty snack that takes down diabetes

Snacks can make or break how your body deals with blood sugar. Munch on junk food and your chances of diabetes may increase. But you can choose a snack that improves your odds of avoiding blood sugar complications.

When scientists at the University of Toronto reviewed studies of how tree nuts affect metabolism, they found the nuts can significantly improve the body’s glycemic control, maintaining blood glucose at healthy levels that make diabetes less likely.

Tree nuts, which include walnuts, cashews, macadamias, almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and pine nuts, were shown to beneficially hold down triglycerides (blood fats) and blood glucose. It also reduces HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin) a substance in the blood that indicates blood sugar trouble.

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According to researcher Cyril Kendall, “… Our analyses indicate that daily tree nut consumption has an overall metabolic benefit and can improve risk factors for metabolic syndrome, and glycemic control in individuals with type 2 diabetes.”

Before incurring diabetes, many people develop metabolic syndrome (MetS), a pre-diabetic condition characterized by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, weight gain around the middle and cholesterol problems. The research shows that if you eat tree nuts, your risk for this condition shrinks.

“With MetS (metabolic syndrome) and diabetes on the rise worldwide, this is yet another reason to include tree nuts in your diet every day,” says researcher Maureen Ternus. “In 2003, FDA (in its qualified health claim for nuts and heart disease) recommended that people eat 1.5 ounces of nuts per day—well above current consumption levels. We need to encourage people—especially those at risk for MetS and those with diabetes—to get their handful of nuts every day.”

Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.