Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently conducted a study, published in the Circulation journal, to explore the potential health benefits of nut consumption among individuals with Type 2 diabetes.
To do so, they examined more than 16,000 adults with diabetes who participated in a previous study. The subjects completed a questionnaire about their diets, which included queries about their tree nut and peanut consumption. They were required to update the survey every two to four years.
During the follow-up, there were about 3,330 cases of cardiovascular disease, which can lead to heart failure, heart attacks and strokes. There were also about 5,600 deaths, and nearly 30 percent of them were caused by cardiovascular disease.
After further analysis, the scientists found higher nut consumption was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. In fact, diabetics who ate five or more servings of nuts weekly were 17 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, compared with diabetics who consumed less than one serving monthly. A serving was defined as an ounce.
Even one serving of nuts proved to be beneficial. Adding one extra serving was linked to a 3 percent lower risk of developing cardiac conditions and a 6 percent lower risk of dying from heart problems.
What types of nuts are best? The authors discovered tree nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, macadamias, hazelnuts and pine nuts, were more strongly associated with lower risk of heart disease than peanuts.
The team said tree nuts may offer more benefits because they contain higher levels of nutrients that improve blood sugar control, blood pressure, metabolism of fats, inflammation and blood vessel wall function than peanuts.
"Our findings provide new evidence that supports the recommendation of including nuts in healthy dietary patterns for the prevention of cardiovascular disease complications and premature deaths among individuals with diabetes," lead study author Gang Liu said in a statement.