Nuts & Diabetes

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So nuts contain sugar?

Yes raw, natural nuts do contain natural sugars and depending on the nut variety they contain 2.1-5.5g sugars per 100g. The type of sugar found naturally in nuts is sucrose – the same type that is in sugar cane and crystallised as white, brown or raw sugar. There’s so much hype about sugars at present but there’s no need to be concerned about the natural sugar content of nuts. If we avoided all foods that contain sugars there would be little left to eat as many plant foods contain some level of natural sugars.

Nuts are a whole food and despite their natural sugar content they still help reduce the glycemic index of a meal and reduce the rise in blood glucose following a meal that contains carbohydrate foods. Their protein, healthy fat and fibre content slow the digestion of nuts. Nuts should be included in the diets of those with diabetes as they also help reduce the risk of heart disease and people with diabetes have twice the risk of heart disease. Regular nut consumption also helps lower blood cholesterol a risk factor for heart disease. This explains why eating nuts daily reduces the risk of heart disease.

Do nuts have a positive effect on blood glucose levels?

The GI-lowering effect of nuts means that nuts slow the rise of blood glucose after a carbohydrate-containing meal. High blood glucose after eating is common in people with pre diabetes and Type 2 diabetes and contributes to diabetes-related complications.

While most nuts do not have their own GI ranking as they do not contain enough carbohydrate to be tested – cashews and chestnuts do and they are low GI.

Do nuts have a Glycemic Index (GI)?

Only foods which contain enough carbohydrates can be measured for their Glycemic Index (a measure of how high and how fast blood glucose rises after you eat a food). Nuts, apart from cashews and chestnuts, don’t contain much carbohydrate, so they do not have a GI. However, nuts have a GI-lowering effect – they reduce the overall GI of a meal. A low-GI diet has been shown to reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes and help in its management. Chestnuts are unlike the other nuts as they are low in fat and contain low GI carbohydrates (GI=54) so a good alternative to potatoes or flour for stuffings and pancakes. Cashews have a low GI of 25.

Should people with diabetes eat nuts & what are the benefits?

Of course people with diabetes should eat nuts. As a plant food they have a wide variety of nutritional benefits for people with diabetes. Nuts can reduce the rise in blood glucose after the meal, as they have a GI lowering effect. Nuts also help to manage other health issues that often affect people with diabetes, for example, weight management, heart disease and high blood pressure. Plus nuts are a source of important nutrients for people with diabetes – healthy fats, fibre, plant sterols, vitamins and minerals – and can help meet recommended daily intakes.


Get yours at your nearest Mopani Pharmacy today!



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