We already know that nuts are a healthy addition to a diet: They contain protein, fiber, a variety of vitamins and minerals, and cholesterol lowering properties. But new research shows they may also pack some other serious benefits when it comes to diabetes.
In the study, two servings of tree nuts—which include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, coconuts, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, plus, some less well known nuts like the Lichee nut, and the Chinquapin nut—per day helped lower and stabilize blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes, as well as reduce two of the five markers for metabolic syndrome, a group of factors that raise the risk for cardiovascular complications, according to the research from St. Michael’s Hospital. This particular study didn't test peanuts—they aren't actually tree nuts, but legumes (in case that ever comes up in a Jeopardy question!). Who knew?
So what should you do? People in North America consume, on average, less than one serving a day of tree nuts, according to study author John Sievenpiper, M.D., Ph.D. And increasing this amount can have serious benefits. Sure, nuts are high in fat, but it's healthy unsaturated fat. And while they can be high in calories, people in the clinical trials didn't gain weight, Sievenpiper said in a statement.
The trick: Be careful in how you add tree nuts to your diet, says Heather Mangieri, R.D., a nutritionist in Pittsburgh and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These studies were calorie-controlled, but if you add tree nuts without replacing other carbohydrates, there is the potential for weight gain, she says.