Want to know one of the secrets to good health in a nutshell? Eating a handful (1-1/2 to 3 ounces, or about 40 to 80 grams) of nuts every day along with fresh vegetables and fruits will help keep a long list of cardiovascular risk factors that so many diabetics have to deal with under good control.
Researchers published in the December 8 edition of Archives of Internal Medicine found that adding a small amount of nuts to the daily diet worked better than olive oil at reducing the risk of a condition known as metabolic syndrome (elevated but not necessarily treatable blood pressure, elevated but not necessarily treatable blood sugars, extra fat around the midsection) better than a low-fat diet did. A diet including a small amount of nuts every day also proved superior to the well-known Mediterranean diet.
And, like several research teams before them, "They found substantial metabolic benefits in the absence of calorie reduction or weight loss," said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital.
The best results were found in a group of study participants who were told to add about six walnut halves, seven or eight shelled whole almonds, and seven or eight whole, shelled hazlenuts to their diets every day. They did not lose weight, but they lost fat on their midsections and showed improved cholesterol and blood pressure.
Several studies have found that nuts help dieters feel full, probably because of their fiber content. "Nuts could have an effect on metabolic syndrome by multiple mechanisms," said lead author Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvado of the University of Rovira i Virgili in Reus, Spain.
"Nuts could have an effect on metabolic syndrome by multiple mechanisms," Salas-Salvado said in an e-mail cited by Discovery News. "Nuts are rich in anti-inflammatory substances, such as fiber, and antioxidants, such as vitamin E. They are high in unsaturated fat, a healthier fat known to lower blood triglycerides and increase good cholesterol."
One area of good health not affected by the "go nuts" diet, however, was blood sugar control. About 46 per cent of the 1,200 Spaniards in the test had type II diabetes but were already on a low-carb diet. High blood sugars were unaffected, neither going up nor going down, but the addition of a few nuts in the daily fare. Diabetics still have to take care of their blood sugars through other areas of dietary restraint.
But if you are a diabetic addicted to high-carb chips and candy, "going nuts" to replace those snacks may in fact help you control your blood sugars. And other studies suggest that adding just a few nuts to your diet every day, even if you don't eliminate something else, may in some cases help you slowly lose weight, up to a pound a month.
And if you want to lose a lot more than a pound a month without feeling hungry all the time, read Bev's new book Eat to Beat the Belly Fat Blues.