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Benefits of Walnuts

Diabetics Can Reap the Benefits of Walnuts

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Updated February 28, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Although a person with type 2 diabetes is primarily concerned with regulating their blood sugar, a secondary concern is often adjusting the diet to lower the risk of cardiovascular problems. One of the benefits of walnuts is that a relatively small amount of walnut intake a day (about 1-2 ounces) has been shown to improve some cardiovascular markers in people with diabetes -- most notably, improved cholesterol levels.

Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Numerous studies have shown that the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include reducing inflammation and providing a level of protection from chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Once again, people with diabetes often have high triglycerides and low HDL levels. Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglycerides and raise HDL, so eating walnuts or foods high in omega-3s may help people with diabetes.

A quarter cup of walnuts provides about 165 calories, 3.8 grams of protein, 3.4 grams of carbohydrate, 16 grams of fat, and 1.7 grams of fiber. Walnuts are also good sources of copper, manganese, vitamin B1 and vitamin B6.

So toss them on a salad, chop them up and throw them in a pilaf, or chop them even finer and mix them in with the breadcrumbs you'll use to bread your chicken or fish. Walnuts will give you a pleasant crunch, followed by a heart-healthy omega-3 punch!

Sources:

American Diabetes Association: www.diabetes.org

Angerer P, von Schacky C. n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the cardiovascular system. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2000;11(1):57-63.

Balk EM, Lichtenstein AH, Chung M et al. Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on serum markers of cardiovascular disease risk: A systematic review. Atherosclerosis. 2006 Nov;189(1):19-30.

Chan EJ, Cho L. What can we expect from omega-3 fatty acids? Cleve Clin J Med. 2009 Apr;76(4):245-51. Review.

Gillen LJ, Tapsell LC, Patch CS, Owen A, Batterham M. Structured dietary advice incorporating walnuts achieves optimal fat and energy balance in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Jul;105(7):1087-96.

Riediger ND, Othman RA, Suh M, Moghadasian MH. A systemic review of the roles of n-3 fatty acids in health and disease. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Apr;109(4):668-79. Review.

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