Because they bear a remarkable resemblance to the human brain, walnuts were a symbol of intelligence in ancient times. Modern research has also shown that walnuts are a smart food choice, especially for people living with diabetes. Plus, one of the most recent walnut studies found that women who ate them reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 24 percent.
The superfood of nuts
Walnuts are one of the world’s most uniquely nutritious nuts. They have been found to have the highest levels of polyphenolic antioxidants than any other nuts. Walnuts are also one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids and the only nut with alpha-linolenic acid—an omega 3 important for healing the body, preventing clotting and reducing inflammation. In fact, just 25 grams of walnuts, about 6 or 7 of them, provides about 90 percent of the recommended daily intake of omega-3 with only 164 calories.
Healthy fat and diabetes health
The healthy dietary fat that walnuts provide is particularly helpful for people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetics are twice as likely to develop heart disease than people without diabetes, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. Nuts high in vitamin E such as walnuts can slow the development of arterial plaque and atherosclerosis. The omega 3s in walnuts can also help reduce the risk of developing irregular heartbeats that can lead to heart attack.
A 2010 Yale study published in Diabetes Care found that eating 2 ounces of walnuts (about 15 nuts) a day improved blood flow in adults with type 2 diabetes. Blood flow is a serious diabetes complication that causes pain in the extremities and can lead to gangrene. A 2009 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that diabetics who ate an ounce of walnuts daily for a year were able to lose weight, keep it off and experienced significant reductions in fasting insulin levels.
Walnuts prevent diabetes
New research published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that eating walnuts can also protect you from becoming diabetic. After tracking 138,000 women for 10 years, researchers found that compared with women who ate no walnuts, those who consumed 8 ounces of walnuts or more a month reduced their risk for Type 2 diabetes by 24 percent.
In addition to linolenic acid and other omega 3s, antioxidants and vitamin E, walnuts are also loaded with many important b-vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. The minerals in walnuts include manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.
Diabetics and those with insulin resistance who are at risk of diabetes can go online to find numerous low glycemic recipes—from entrees to desserts—that use walnuts for texture and flavor. Except for people allergic to tree nuts, eating a handful of walnuts every day will provide recommended levels of protein and numerous vitamins and minerals for anyone.