Study Shows Eating Nuts May Improve Heart Health in People with Diabetes

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If you have type 2 diabetes, chances are you’re always looking for ways to reduce the health concerns that often come with this condition, such as heart disease. If that’s the case, you’re going to want to read on to learn more about the study conducted by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which found that a simple diet change may make a world of difference in your risk of heart disease.

The large-scale study assessed data from 16,217 men and women who were given diet questionnaires before and after they were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Factors like gender, smoking habits, and body weight, were taken into account for accurate results.

As part of the questionnaire, participants were asked how often they consumed tree nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, macadamias, hazelnuts, and pine nuts. They were also asked about their consumption of peanuts, which are actually legumes, as they grow underground.

The results of the study showed that eating any nuts, but particularly tree nuts, was good for heart health. Those who ate five servings of nuts per week (28 grams per serving) were 17 percent less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, 20 percent less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, and 34 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease. In fact, this group had a 31 percent lower all-cause mortality rate than those who ate less than one serving of nuts per month.

Even those who didn’t eat nuts much before but increased their nut intake after being diagnosed with diabetes saw significant health benefits compared to those who didn’t change their diets. They were 11 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, 15 percent less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, 25 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease, and 27 percent less likely to die prematurely of any cause.

The findings suggested that each additional weekly serving of nuts was associated with a three percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a six percent lower risk of cardiovascular-related death. In addition, nut consumption appears to improve blood sugar control, blood pressure, metabolism of fats, inflammation and blood vessel wall function.

The American Heart Association’s journal Circulation Research published the findings. It is still unclear why nuts are linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and similar health issues, nuts are known to contain lots of vital nutrients, including unsaturated fatty acids, phytochemicals, fiber, vitamins such as vitamin E and folate, and minerals including calcium, potassium and magnesium. Tree nuts do not appear to be linked to a decreased risk of stroke or cancer mortality.

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Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?
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