Nuts Reduce Risk of Diabetes in Women
Women who consume nuts or peanut butter as part of their regular diet may reduce their risk of developing type 2 (adult onset) diabetes, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2002;288:2554–60). This study provides more evidence that type 2 diabetes may be prevented by making relatively simple dietary changes.
In this study, 83,818 female nurses from ages 30 to 55 were questioned in 1980 about their dietary habits. Frequency of nut consumption was recorded as never, less than one 1-ounce serving a week, one to four servings a week, or more than five servings a week.
During a 16-year follow-up period, women who consumed a 1-ounce serving of nuts more than five times a week had a 27% less chance of developing type 2 diabetes, compared with those who never ate nuts. Nut consumption between one and four servings per week also led to a reduction in type 2 diabetes risk, but to a lesser extent than seen with higher nut intake. Frequent consumption of peanut butter was also associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes. Concerns have been raised that, because of their high fat content, nuts could cause weight gain and increase the risk of heart disease. However, in this study, there was no significant change in body weight and no increase in the incidence of heart disease among the high nut consumers.
Type 2 diabetes has become a worldwide epidemic affecting more than 16 million people in the United States and 135 million people around the world. An estimated 300 million individuals will be affected worldwide by the year 2025. Type 2 diabetes is associated with several complications, such as heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and circulation problems. Studies show that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is increased by excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle. Some physicians believe that dietary factors particularly the high consumption of refined grains and sugar—may also play a significant role in the development of diabetes. The role of these dietary factors warrants further investigation.
Nuts are rich in fiber, magnesium, and many other essential nutrients. Other studies have shown that consuming fiber and magnesium can help achieve better blood sugar control. Peanuts are technically legumes (beans), but their nutritional content is similar to that of other types of nuts. Although it is not clear which components of nuts contribute to the decrease in diabetes risk, the evidence suggests that consuming nuts and peanut butter on a regular basis may help prevent a potentially devastating and life-threatening disease.
Darin Ingels, ND, MT (ASCP), received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. Dr. Ingels is the author of The Natural Pharmacist: Lowering Cholesterol (Prima, 1999) and Natural Treatments for High Cholesterol (Prima, 2000). He currently is in private practice at New England Family Health Associates located in Southport, CT, where he specializes in environmental medicine and allergies. Dr. Ingels is a regular contributor to Healthnotes and Healthnotes Newswire.
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