As a lifestyle disease, diabetes is a growing challenge in India with an estimated 8.7 per cent diabetic population in the age group of 20 and 70 years. As per the World Health Organization, the rising prevalence of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases is driven by a combination of factors — rapid urbanisation, sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy diets, tobacco use and increasing life expectancy.
Nuts provide a number of benefits and studies suggest that nuts may even decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that “nut consumption was associated with a decreased prevalence of selected risk factors for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome”.
One of the most prominent characteristics of nuts for people with diabetes is their effect on cholesterol levels which is considered essential because exposure to high blood glucose levels increases the risk of arteries narrowing. Almonds and walnuts, which contain a lot of vitamin E, also inhibit the development of plaque that can narrow and clog the arteries. Walnuts are one of the richest vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids or unsaturated fat which is most commonly found in fish. They are known to increase levels of good cholesterol in the body.
Are walnuts good for diabetics?
A 2015 study showed that high blood glucose levels reduced the antioxidant activity of cells. This meant that taking walnuts regularly has a protective effect against oxidative stress which is responsible for many of the complications of diabetes. Another study found that consuming 30 grams of walnuts (approximately 7-8 walnuts) daily for a year causes weight loss and reduces fasting insulin levels (a marker of metabolic problems such as diabetes) in people with diabetes.
A 2018-study at the University of California, Los Angeles showed that three tablespoons of walnuts daily is associated with a 47 per cent lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes. In this study, researchers reviewed data and interviewed over 34,000 adults of all ages and backgrounds. They found that regardless of age, race, gender, education, body mass index, and physical activity levels, those who regularly consumed walnuts had a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes than those who did not.
Rich in dietary fibre, walnuts are known to help build resistance for insulin besides controlling blood glucose levels which helps lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Notably, fibre takes long to break down and digest which ensures slow release of sugar in the bloodstream.
Walnuts are low in glycaemic index which means that a moderate amount can be enjoyed by diabetics as a snack. Walnuts are best had with skin on and can also be used in smoothies or as a topping to cereals.
Wasabi and California Walnut Trail Mix by celebrity chef Sabyasachi Gorai
30ml – Maple syrup
15ml – Soy sauce
3tsp – Wasabi paste or 2tsp Wasabi powder
Small pinch – Garlic powder
200g – California walnuts
50g – Pumpkin seeds
*Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
*Whisk together the maple syrup, soy sauce, wasabi and garlic powder. Toss the mixture with the California walnuts and pumpkin seeds to evenly coat, and then spread out over the baking tray in a single layer.
*Place into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and toasted to perfection. Leave to cool then store in an airtight jar.