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Diet: Do Peanuts Help Prevent Diabetes?

Por Emiliana Faillace, Nutrition Counselor, MyDiet™ Team -
Diet: Do Peanuts Help Prevent Diabetes?


According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incidence of diabetes has tripled over the last 30 years. Approximately 16 million people are at risk of suffering from this disease. That's why it's necessary to take action and find strategies to prevent it.

Recently, a Harvard University study observed a direct relation between the regular consumption of peanuts or peanut butter with a low incidence of type 2 diabetes. The study was done on 83,000 women in the United States who generally ate at least 5 spoonfuls of peanut butter or 5 ounces of peanuts a week. The participants' diets were evaluated every 4 years and at the end of the study, which lasted 16 years, none of them showed signs of diabetes, heart disease or cancer. Researchers concluded that consuming a spoonful of peanut butter or an ounce of peanuts a day could decrease the risk of suffering from  diabetes by more than 20%. 1

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that peanuts make up 68% of all nuts consumed in the country 2. This means that more than half of Americans consume this food. Why, then, is there such a high incidence of diabetes? It is important to keep in mind that peanuts alone don't perform "miracles." Instead, including them in our daily diets and substituting them for certain foods such as white flour, sugars and saturated  fats are what will ultimately benefit our health.

Why are peanuts and peanut butter healthy? These foods are low in saturated fat,  salt and sugar. In addition, most of the fat they contain is unsaturated which is good for a healthy heart and helps prevent diabetes. They also contain fiber and magnesium which decrease resistance to insulin and are inversely related to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, they contain more vegetable proteins than any other nut and are rich in vitamin E, folic acid, potassium, zinc, phytosterols and antioxidants.

Following are some tips on how to include peanuts and peanut butter in your diet:

  • Instead of spreading butter, margarine or cream cheese on bread or crackers, use peanut butter.
  • Dip your vegetables or fruits in peanut butter.
  • For breakfast, prepare a banana shake with milk and peanut butter.
  • Add peanut butter to oatmeal.
  • Mix popcorn with peanuts at snack time.
  • Sprinkle chopped peanuts on yogurt or salads.

Remember that peanuts have a high content of fat and calories so be sure to consume them in moderation.

Sources:

1. Rui Jiang; JoAnn E. Manson; Meir J. Stampfer; Simin Liu; Walter C. Willett; Frank B. Hu.  Nut and Peanut Butter Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women
   JAMA, Nov 2002; 288: 2554 - 2560.

2. USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. (2000 December). Nutrition Insights: The Role of Nuts in a Healthy Diet. Washington, DC. Retrieved January 30, 2001.               www.usda.gov/cnpp 

 

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