Top 10 Nuts and Seeds For Controlling Your Blood Sugar

 

Author Sidebar: I didn't really care that much for nuts (or seeds) as a snack. I preferred potato chips or pretzels; or, a piece of fruit such as an apple or some grapes. But, after I recovered from my coma and returned to work, I realized that I needed something healthier than potato chips for a snack. :-)

I started with salted, roasted peanuts; but, after doing some research, I discovered that roasted nuts tended not to be healthy because the heat caused damaged to the healthy fats within the nuts. In addition, I discovered that peanuts were one of the least healthy nuts.

So, I gradually transitioned to raw nuts (no salt, not roasted), mainly almonds, pecans and walnuts; and, sometimes macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, and pumpkin seeds. 

Nuts and Seeds Help Control Blood Sugar and Manage Type 2Diabetes

Beyond helping with blood pressure, cholesterol, weight gain, and other health issues, there are 4 major problems that nuts and seeds help address to have them quality as super fats that help reverse your diabetes.

1. Healthy Snacks: is key to help diabetics maintain proper glucose control, especially between major meals. Eating nuts and seeds make it a lot easier to prepare quick and healthy snacks.

2. Healthy Fats: is one of the areas where many diabetics are lacking from a nutrient content perspective. Nuts and seeds provide monounsaturated fats, oleic acid and Omega-3 fats to help address inflammation, oxidation, weight gain, blood glucose levels and insulin levels.

3. Cravings: is a problem area that nuts and seeds can help with because of their macronutrient and micronutrient content, especially the fat, protein and minerals.

4. Eating Fruits: can be better tolerated when eaten with a handful of nuts and seeds. Why? Because the protein and fat in the nuts and seeds offset the carbs in the fruit.

Nuts and Seeds Health Benefits

Because nuts and seeds provide plant protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, they can help a diabetic better manage his/her diabetes, especially, when it comes to eating healthy snacks.

Research shows that eating more nuts and seeds can lower your risk for cardiovascular disease by reducing blood pressure and “bad” cholesterol levels.

This is due to nuts and seeds containing heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, fiber, and protein. 

The vitamins and minerals in nuts include potassium, vitamins E, vitamin B6, arginine, and folic acid -- all of which also help to fight heart disease. Arginine specifically protects the inner lining of the artery walls.

Some of the many health benefits of nuts and seeds include the following:

Blood Glucose Control: Because of the protein and good fat content, most nuts and seeds help to control blood glucose levels, including postprandial blood glucose levels.

In research published online by the journal Diabetes Care (in 2011), a team of researchers led by Dr. David Jenkins (University of Toronto Department of Nutritional Sciences) reported that consuming two ounces of nuts daily as a replacement for carbohydrates proved effective with glycemic and serum lipid control for people with Type 2 diabetes.

Digestion and Weight Loss: Nuts and seeds have a high content of fiber, which helps to promote bowel movements..

In addition, fiber makes the body feel full, and inhibits the release of ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

However, avoid roasted nuts and nuts that are heavily salted or dipped in chocolate.

Increased Heart Health: Nuts and seeds contain arginine, flavonoids (including resveratrol) and healthy fats -- all of which help to protect the cardiovascular system.

Cancer Prevention: Nuts contain monounsaturated fats (oleic acid) and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 fatty acids), more specifically, alpha-linoleic acid (ALA).

These fatty acids have certain anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to reduce the chances of colon, prostate, and breast cancer in test subjects.

Vitamin-E Content: Nuts and seeds contain Vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant.

Antioxidants such as Vitamin E combat the effects of free radicals in the body,; and, boost skin health by fighting the harmful effects of free radicals that lead to wrinkles and premature aging.

Vitamin E also supports immune function, increases the metabolic functions of the body, and promotes cellular repair.

Mental Health: Nuts and seeds contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which help to fight the effects of mental disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and depression.

Potassium Content: Some nuts have high levels of potassium, which works as a vasodilator to reduce blood pressure and protect the heart from various conditions.

Copper and Iron: Nuts and seeds contain copper and iron, which are needed for the proper functioning and creation of red blood cells. 

Caution #1: Unfortunately, some people are allergic to nuts so be careful. 

If you are allergic the reactions may include anything from mild to extremely severe, such as skin and facial irritation, swelling of the throat, respiratory malfunctions, anaphylactic shock, heart arrhythmia, vomiting, diarrhea, and gastric discomfort. 

Caution #2: Because of the high fat content in most nuts and seeds, be careful not to eat too much. A handful once or twice a day as part of a healthy snack should be sufficient.

Top 10 Nuts &  Seeds

The top super fat nuts and seeds for diabetics include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.

In general, almonds, Brazil, macadamia and pecan nuts are the best for a strict low-carb diet. 

However, be careful with pistachio and (especially) cashew nuts, as the carbs will quickly add up. Just two handfuls of cashews contains 20 grams, the daily allowance on a strict low-carb diet.

Almonds

Almonds are beneficial to your heart because they contain monounsaturated fats, the same fat found in olive oil. 

Almonds are high in magnesium, which reduces blood pressure and may reduce a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are well-known for being an excellent source of organic selenium, a powerful antioxidant-boosting mineral that may be beneficial for the prevention of cancer.

Cashews

Cashews are lower in fat than most other nuts. About 75 percent of the fat in cashews is oleic acid, or heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, which is the same type of fat found in olive oil. 

Surprisingly, cashews are good for the eyes. They contain high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, which act as antioxidants when consumed regularly. These compounds protect the eyes from light damage, and may help prevent cataracts.

Flaxseed

Flaxseeds are high in most of the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese; soluble and insoluble fiber;and,  lignans; and Omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation.

However, avoid flaxseed that is already ground up because it may be rancid -- grind up the flaxseeds yourself.

The primary omega-3 fatty acid in flaxseeds—alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)may may protect the cardiovascular system from inflammatory damage.

Also, the lignans protect the blood vessels from inflammatory damage. These lignans can inhibit formation of platelet activating factor (PAF), which increases risk of inflammation.

Control blood sugar: Based on several studies, it appears that  flaxseeds help to lower and control blood sugar.

In addition flaxseeds may help to lower blood pressure.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious seeds in the world with cancer and heart disease prevention properties.

Hemp seeds are a complete protein; plus, they provide, essential fats, vitamins and enzymes.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts have the highest fat and lowest protein and carb content of any nut.

However, about 60 percent of the fatty acid in macadamia is the monounsaturated fat oleic acid, which supports heart health.

Raw macadamia nuts also contain high amounts of vitamin B1, magnesium, and manganese.

Pecans

Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals, and research has shown they may help lower LDL cholesterol and promote healthy arteries.

However, pecans are a close second to macadamia nuts on the fat and protein scale, so don't eat too many.  

Pine Nuts

Pine nuts are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid that helps to lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increases HDL or "good-cholesterol" in the blood.

Pine or cedar nuts contain essential fatty acid (omega-6 fat), pinolenic acid. Recent research has shown its potential use in weight loss by curbing appetite.

Similar to almonds, pines are an excellent source of vitamin E, about 9.33 mg per 100 g (about 62% of RDA). 

Pistachios

Pistachios are high in lutein, beta-carotene, and gamma-tocopherol (vitamin E) compared to other nuts.

These nutrients help to increase blood levels of antioxidants and, in turn, lower oxidized LDL cholesterol in people with elevated levels.

But, be aware that most pistachios are bleached, so avoid potentially harmful toxins by getting organic pistachios.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men's health. This is in part because of their high zinc content, which is important for prostate health.

Animal studies suggest that pumpkin seeds may help improve insulin regulation and help prevent diabetic complications by decreasing oxidative stress.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, copper, B vitamins, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Sunflower seeds also contain one of the highest levels of phytosterols, which are beneficial for your heart health and immune system.

Walnuts

Walnuts are the only nut that contains anti-inflammatory plant-based omega-3 fats, along with high amounts of copper, manganese, molybdenum, and biotin.

Walnuts also contain the amino acid l-arginine, which helps to protect the inner linings of arterial walls..

A research study published in "Diabetes Care" in December 2004 showed that including 1 oz. of walnuts in the diet of patients with type 2 diabetes significantly improved their cholesterol profile, reducing risk of heart disease. 

FYI: The outermost layer of a shelled walnut – the whitish, flaky part – has a bitter flavor, but resist the urge to remove it. It's thought that up to 90 percent of the antioxidants in walnuts are found in the skin, making it one of the healthiest parts to consume.

Meal Planning Tips for Eating Nuts and Seeds to Reverse Type 2Diabetes

Eat in Moderation: Most nuts should be eaten in moderation, but not because they're high in fat or calories. It's the high protein content that you need to watch out for, especially in nuts like almonds and pistachios.

Most Americans consume three to five times more protein than they need, along with excessive starchy carbs and not enough healthy fats. Excess dietary protein can lead to elevated blood sugar, weight gain, kidney stress, leaching of bone minerals, and stimulation of cancer cells, and it's easy to overdo it if you eat a few handfuls of high-protein nuts.

To avoid mindless eating, try portioning out your nuts in small Tupperware containers or Ziploc bags. Some companies also sell their nuts in single-serving-size packages for an easy grab-and-go option.  

Avoid Salted, Roasted, Bleached Nuts: Roasted nuts have been found to damage the amino acids and fatty acids, which may become rancid.

Bleached nuts (especially pistachios), may contain dangerous toxins. Avoid the red or green dyed pistachios for this reason. 


Avoid salted nuts. If you really want salt on your nuts, do it yourself because you can control the amount and the quality of the salt, e.g. Himalayan salt. 

Eat Raw/Organic Nuts: Always purchase nuts that are organic and raw. Some of the pesticides used on nuts are toxic so they have been banned in most countries but are still legal in the U.S.

These pesticides are highly toxic to humans and animals, as they affect the central nervous system, and cause damage to the kidneys and liver.

In addition, avoid pasteurized nuts because pasteurization damages the healthy fats and oils in the nuts.

Eat Mixed Nuts: Because of the variety of nutrients each type of nuts has, try to eat a variety. Either buy pre-made mixed nuts, or buy nuts in bulk and make your own in Ziploc bags.

Soak Nuts: Soaking nuts will help to get rid of the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, which can interfere with the function of your own digestive and metabolic enzymes, in the nuts. 

When nuts are soaked, the germination process begins, allowing the enzyme inhibitors to be deactivated and increasing the nutrition of the nut significantly, as well as making them much easier to digest.


Refrigerate Nuts: If you don't eat the nuts within the week, refrigerate them to protect the fats and oils in the nuts from going rancid.

Frequency of Eating Nuts: Eat a handful of nuts, or a tablespoon of nut butter, at least 4 times a week for your heart health.

Nuts and Seeds Nutritional Content Chart for Snack Planning

The following charts define the nutritional content of the major nuts and seeds that are beneficial to most people with diabetes.

This chart shows the calories, carbs, fiber, net carbs and protein amounts for the major nuts and seeds.

Note 1: The numbers in blue-bold represent the nuts with the highest number of calories, carbs, fiber, net carbs, and protein.

Note 2: The numbers in red-bold represent the seeds with the highest number of calories, carbs, fiber, net carbs, and protein.

Nuts-and-Seeds-Nutritional-Content

Nuts: Nutritional Content Chart

In addition to the calories, carbs, fiber, and protein amounts, this chart provides some additional information about the fat content in nuts.

Note: The number in red-bold represent the nut with the highest number of calories or grams in that specific column.

Nuts-Nutritional-Content

Common Nuts and Net Carbs

The following diagram shows the net carbs for each of the major nuts. As you move towards the left, the nuts displayed have fewer net carbs; while, towards the right, the nuts have more carbs.

This diagram can be used by someone who is designing a low-carb meal plan for his/her snacks.

Common Nuts and Their Net Carbs

Next Steps: Diabetes  Meal Planning with Snacks

Healthy snacks play an important role in helping a diabetic manage his/her blood glucose levels throughout the day.

And, nuts and seeds are key foods that make it easier for you to design healthy, diabetic-friendly snacks. This is very important, especially if you're on the road a lot or if you don't like bringing your lunch to work.

If you need help with your meal planning (including healthy snacks), then, we recommend that you get the author's Death to Diabetes Cookbook, which provides hundreds of diabetic-friendly meal recipes, snacks and desserts.

If you're more interested in one of the extreme low carb diets such as keto or LCHF, then, get the Low Carb Diets book.


References 

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Additional References

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  18. California Pistachio Research Board, Guidelines for California Pistachio Growers, 2009
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  20. Mercola website

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