A lot of people tend to be weary of eating nuts due to their fat content, but Scientists who studied 84,000 women for 16 years found that those who ate a tablespoon of peanut butter or ¼ cup of any nuts at least five times a week had 20 to 30 percent less chance of developing diabetes than those who rarely consumed either. (Men should receive the same benefit, researchers say).
Whether you like to crunch on walnuts, pistachios, or almonds or spread nut butters on whole grain bread, you’re in luck. “Peanuts and some nuts share a similar nutritional makeup, so the diabetes-fighting benefits should be similar for all of them, “says Frank Hu, M.D., Ph.D., a Harvard university nutrition researcher.
So how do nuts help to stave off diabetes? Researchers think that their monounsaturated fats may build healthier “skin” around each of your body’s cells, creating more efficient doorways for blood sugar to enter. Nuts’ fiber and magnesium seem to help your body manage insulin levels. Other components-vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant proteins-may pitch in for healthy blood sugar and insulin regulation.
Still, you’ll need to enjoy this healthy but high-calorie food in moderation. Each tablespoon of peanut butter packs around 95 calories each ounce of nuts, 165 calories. Eat them with abandon, and you could gain 10 pounds or more. Weight control, along with exercise, is one of the most important things you can do to avoid diabetes, says Dr. Hu.
The best way to let nuts and nut butters work for you – is to substitute them for equal amounts of calories from refined carbohydrates, like white bread, which can increase your diabetes risk. That way, you will double your benefit.