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Best Nuts For Diabetes, Healthy For You Too!

Last updated on February 23, 2021

Nuts are one of my favorite, most highly recommended foods for all types of health profiles, including diabetes and binge eating.

However, I realize that with diabetes and binge eating, there can be lots of fear about eating foods such as nuts. 

Today I’d like to explore the following question from a conservative, safety-first perspective: Since you can probably have a few nuts, what’s a safe amount to start? 

To answer this question, today we’ll examine a ‘worst’ case scenario, Type 2 diabetes, and specifically answer: 

  • How many nuts can a diabetic eat?
  • Do nuts raise your blood sugar?
  • Which nuts are good for diabetics?

If people with diabetes in the ‘worst’ case scenario can have some nuts, then you’re going to be just fine if you have the same amount. 

So let’s explore these three questions and talk about best nuts diabetes practices for your daily diet.

How Many Nuts Can A Diabetic Eat?

What are best practices for diabetes? 

Let’s start with a blog article from Diabetes.Org about ‘Diabetes Superfoods’ which include nuts.

An ounce of nuts can go a long way in getting key healthy fats along with helping to manage hunger. In addition, they offer magnesium and fiber. Some nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flax seeds, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.”

An ounce of nuts is recommended for people with diabetes.  So this advice should give you more confidence about eating nuts.

Here’s a silly analogy to hopefully drive home a point:

If you were trapped on an island and could only have 3 foods, which foods would you pick? You would have an infinite amount of these foods, but only these 3.

I always included ‘nuts’ in my 3 choices, along with beans and cabbage. 

I believe you can eat nuts every day and be all the better for it, even if you’re trapped on an island!

Every day you can definitely have at least an ounce of nuts with 100% full confidence.

Right? If the leading diabetes association lists an ounce of nuts as a ‘diabetes superfood’ for people with diabetes, then you can be damn sure you can eat nuts too!

Please note I’m not talking about super salty nuts.  For example, those toasted, incredibly salty almonds can dehydrate you and make you eat more of them.  

For even more evidence here’s a systematic review study from 2017 about nuts! This study published concludes:

“Due to the high energy density of nuts and seeds, it was believed that their consumption could increase weight gain; however, it is observed that the consumption of this group of foods does not stimulate weight gain.”

This systematic review study backs up my feelings about nuts. 

Nuts are one of those rare superfoods which  have so many health and wellness benefits like:

  • lower risk of cardiovascular problems
  • less risk of heart disease
  • lower blood sugar levels
  • overall heart health
  • lower blood pressure

Do Nuts Raise Your Blood Sugar?

In fact, nut consumption actually helps regulate blood sugar levels better because nuts promote feelings of satisfaction and fullness. 

Even though nuts are dense, they make you feel full. If you ate chips instead of nuts, you’d keep eating more calories because you’d never feel full.

Try an ounce of nuts. You also can easily add more nuts to your diet, even for people with type 2 diabetes.

Here are some ways you can add nuts to your diet, even if you have diabetes!

Serving size: small handful or around quarter cup

  • Sprinkle on salads
  • Add to oatmeal
  • Have plain handful for snack 
  • Eat alongside any fruit
  • Great addition to any noodle bowl

Which Nuts Are Good For Diabetics?

It’s my opinion that all nuts are good for diabetes. 

Just remember, if people with type 2 diabetes are recommended to have nuts then so can you.

However, this blog is all about keeping things simple. So let’s just talk about the top 2 best nuts for people with type 2 diabetes. 

And by ‘top’ I’ll go by these three criteria:

  1. Health benefits
  2. Ease of purchase
  3. Familiarity

For example, the Brazil Nut is very healthy and pretty easy to purchase, but not as familiar to most people in the U.S.. 

I want to stick with familiar nuts because those are the ones you’ll actually eat – once you really embrace the fact that nuts are great! 

1 – Peanuts

peanut butter jar with peanuts

Buy me some peanuts and apple sauce …

Peanuts have a long history in American culture. We’re all familiar with Mr. Peanut! 

Peanuts have a lot of protein, Vitamin E and other nutrients. You can easily get them at the store! 

Peanuts, like other nuts, help you feel full. If you’re wondering about the Glycemic Index (GI) and Gylcemic Load (GL)scores, peanuts score GI 14 and GL 1

This means they are one of the lowest scoring foods on both indices.

What Do The GI And GL Refer To?

The GI and GL refer to indexes that rate foods upon how fast these foods cause a rise in blood sugar. Low scores mean slowly whereas high scores mean fast. 

People with type 2 diabetes use both indices so they know what foods can be eaten without causing a huge blood sugar spike.

Summary: Since peanuts have low GI and GL scores, they convert slowly into blood sugar. Nuts are not one of the risk factors for too high blood glucose levels.

2 – Almonds

almonds

Almonds, like peanuts, are very common. There are a few different ways almonds are available, incluing:

  • Slivered almonds
  • Raw almonds
  • Lightly seasoned
  • Really salty
  • Super chocolaty and sugary

Obviously I’m not recommending the really salty or super chocolaty and sugary ones. 

While I think some chocolate is fine, the purpose of this post is really to help you start eating more nuts in general so we’re keeping things basic and conservative.

Basically I am just going to say the same things about almonds as I just said above about peanuts.  

Almonds: 

  • Fill you up
  • Have fat, but this is good because you then don’t overeat them like you would overeat chips
  • Have tons of nutrients 
  • Go great on a variety of foods like salad, oatmeal, fruits and snacks

But truth be told …

All Types Of Nuts Are Beneficial 

You can have macadamia nuts, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, pecans, etc … They are all basically the same as peanuts and almonds!

I personally use unsalted mixed nuts because I don’t think one nut in particular is better than the others. I just think all nuts are great, so the unsalted mixes are perfect for me.

Here’s how I use nuts in my every day diet:

  • Sprinkle in oatmeal with yogurt and honey
  • Embed nuts into sweet potatoes. Makes for a great crunch!
  • Thrown nuts into various salads and veggie mixes
  • Eat lots of whole wheat bread and peanut butter
  • Grab a handful of nuts if running out the door and I’m hungry

Overall though, I just love nuts.  They give me a full, satisfied feeling that lasts for hours. Nuts are one of those foods that make me feel so good afterwards.

Conclusion – I Hope You Eat More Nuts 

I know you might be afraid, but in my Cognitive Behavioral Therapy work with private clients, I see lots of food fears. 

I’ve found out something simple. To get over most of your food fears, you can just write out your thoughts and fears before you eat. 

Even if you have something like type 2 diabetes – write out your thoughts about your fears and your fears will decrease!

Of course, not all your food fears can be solved simply by writing your thoughts onto paper, but truthfully, a good amount of your fears can be reduced in this manner!

That’s why I created this Food Awareness Journal, so that you can get your thoughts onto paper! Just literally write down what you’re afraid of in terms of food, and then go follow the above guidelines and try an ounce of nuts!

You can try an ounce. I know you can.

To get you started, let me know in the comment section below which you like more, peanuts or almonds? 

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