Nuts: Can They Lower the Risk of Diabetes?

English: a walnut and a walnut core

First of all, I should state what may be obvious: There is an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the USA and in the world. Fortunately, lifestyle and diet are key drivers of the phenomenon, so there is hope that we can change the incidence of the disease. Research suggests that the type of fat eaten may play a role. Higher intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs – don’t say it like Sam Jackson) and lower consumption of saturated fat and trans fat lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Recent study: A prospective study done as part of the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS)and the NHS II looked at walnuts and other nuts. The goal? To better understand the nut-diabetes reduction link. They also tracked body mass index.

The results: Tree nut and peanut consumption are linked to lower rates of the development of diabetes, but not when adjusted for body mass index. On the other hand, walnuts appear to be independently associated with a lower rate of development of type 2 diabetes, even when adjusted for body mass index. More than 2 servings per week reduced risk by about a third!

My take: We probably should eat nuts, especially walnuts. In moderation, of course. Watch out for the caloric density of the nuts, and remember to aim for a health body mass index of 20-25. But… maybe the consumers of walnuts in the study also ate more health foods. There was no subgroup analysis to remove confounding variables like that. Still, I personally eat half a dozen walnuts 2 to 3 times per week.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

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