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Nuts Shown to Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Research has shown that monosaturated fatty acids (MUFA) can help with glycemic control and HDL cholesterol in diabetics, but the best source of MUFA had never been defined. Now scientists from the University of Toronto have released a study showing that nuts are an excellent source of MUFA and can be used for glycemic and serum lipid control for type 2 diabetics.

The findings were published online ahead of print on June 29, 2011 in the journal Diabetes Care.

The study examined 117 patients with type 2 diabetes. The participants were divided into three groups and received three different types of supplementary meals. One group ate only muffins, one group ate 2 ounces of a mixture of nuts, and one group ate a combination of muffins and 1 ounce of nuts.

The nut mixture included raw almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, and macadamias.

At the conclusion of three months, the nut only group showed marked improvement in blood glucose control and a reduction in their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. The muffin only and muffin and nut groups did not see significant changes.

Participants in the nut only group also reduced their HbA1c by 2/3’s of what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says is clinically meaningful for therapeutic agents. HbA1c is a long-term marker of blood sugar control.

Significantly, the consumption of nuts was not associated with any weight gain, which was previously a concern with increased MUFA intake.

MUFA can also be found in cooking oils, seeds, avocados, olives, and dark chocolate. Sometimes referred to as "good fats," MUFA may also help in weight reduction when they are consumed in lieu of "bad fats" such as those found in fast food and potato chips. Keep in mind, however, that at this point nuts are the only source of MUFA that have been scientifically shown to help manage type 2 diabetes.

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