| Handful of Nuts Every
Week May Ward Off Diabetes
NEW YORK (Reuters
Health) - Women who enjoy an occasional
handful of almonds or walnuts or a serving of peanut butter may
have a lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes than women who
rarely eat such food, Harvard researchers report in a study released
Women who ate about 5 ounces of
nuts a week had a diabetes risk 27% lower than women who never
or rarely ate nuts, according to the report in the November 27th
issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Women
who ate between 1 ounce and 4 ounces of nuts a week had a 16%
lower risk, even when they had other diabetes risk factors.
While more research is needed to
confirm the findings, the study suggests that unsaturated fats
found in nuts may improve the body's ability to use insulin and
regulate blood glucose (sugar). Previous research has shown that
eating nuts may be associated with a lower risk of heart disease,
which is also affected by insulin and blood sugar control.
However, the authors recommend
that nuts, which are high in fat, be used as a substitute for
other foods such as certain types of meat or refined grain products.
Adding calories to the diet makes weight gain more likely, which
can raise the risk of both type 2 diabetes and heart disease,
"To avoid increasing caloric intake,
regular nut consumption can be recommended as a replacement for
consumption of refined grain products or red or processed meats,"
conclude Dr. Rui Jiang from Harvard School of Public Health in
Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues.
Their study included nearly 84,000
female nurses living in the US, who filled out several questionnaires
about their diet over 16 years. The women ranged from 34 to 59
years old when the study began, and had no history of diabetes,
heart disease or cancer.
According to the results, women
who ate the most 1-ounce servings of nuts and peanut butter were
the least likely to develop type 2 diabetes. For instance, women
who reported never or rarely eating these foods had no change
in risk, while those who ate at least 5 1-ounce servings of nuts
or peanut butter weekly cut their risk by at least 20%.
Women who included between 1-4
ounces of nuts in their weekly diet reduced their diabetes risk
by 16%, and those who reported eating less than 1 ounce of nuts
a week had an 8% lower risk for the disease.
Although women who consumed more
nuts tended to weigh less, exercise more and smoke less than their
peers who ate fewer servings of nuts, the association between
nuts and diabetes risk remained regardless of body mass index
(BMI), smoking and alcohol intake.
"Our data...support potential benefits
of increasing nut consumption in reducing type 2 diabetes risk,"
the study concludes.
Type 2 diabetes, the most common
form of the disease, is often linked to obesity. Once seen almost
exclusively in older adults, the disease is on the rise among
adults and children in the US. Diabetes increases the risk of
blindness, amputation, kidney failure, nerve damage and heart
The study was funded by the National
Institutes of Health.
SOURCE: Journal of the American
Medical Association 2002;288:2554-2560.
Reference Source 89