A “nutty” solution to Type 2 diabetes management

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Media Release

A “nutty” solution to Type 2 diabetes management

Toronto, July 12, 2011

Eating nuts every day could help control Type 2 diabetes and prevent its complications, according to new research from St. Michael’s Hospital.

In the research, published online in the journal Diabetes Care, a team led by Dr. David Jenkins reports that consuming two ounces of nuts daily as a replacement for carbohydrates proved effective in controlling blood sugar levels and cholesterol in people with Type 2 diabetes.

The article, “Nuts as a Replacement for Carbohydrates in the Diabetic Diet,” is available online.

“Mixed, unsalted, raw or dry-roasted nuts have benefits for both blood glucose control and blood lipids and may be used as part of a strategy to improve diabetes control without weight gain,” said Dr. Jenkins, director of the hospital’s Risk Factor Modification Centre.

Jenkins and his colleagues gave three different diet supplements to people with Type 2 diabetes. One group was given muffins; another was provided with a mixture of nuts including raw almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, and macadamias; and the third group was given a mixture of muffins and nuts.

Patients receiving the nut-only supplement reported the greatest improvement in blood glucose control using the glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) test. HbA1c is the long-term marker for glycemic control. This group also experienced a reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (known as LDL, or “bad cholesterol”).

Patients given the muffin supplement or mixed muffin-and-nut supplement experienced no significant improvement in gylcemic control, but those receiving the muffin-nut mixture significantly lowered their serum LDL levels.

“Those receiving the full dose of nuts reduced their HbA1c [the long-term marker of glycemic control] by two-thirds of what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognizes as being clinically meaningful for therapeutic agents,” DR. Jenkins said. “Furthermore, neither in the current study nor in previous reports has nut consumption been associated with weight gain. If anything, nuts appear to be well suited as part of weight-reducing diets. The study indicates that nuts can provide a specific food option for people with Type 2 diabetes wishing to reduce their carbohydrate intake.”

Dr. Jenkins also has appointments with the University of Toronto’s Departments of Medicine and Nutritional Sciences. He also serves as Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Metabolism.

Acknowledgments — This work was supported by the Canada Research Chair Endowment of the Federal Government of Canada, the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (representing almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts), and the Peanut Institute. None of the funding organizations or sponsors played any role in the design and conduct of the study; in the collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; or in the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript. Dr. Jenkins has also received honorariums for consultation from the International Tree Nut Council and the Almond Board of California.

About St. Michael’s

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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