Our Health Nut and Registered Dietitian, Molly Morgan, answers our customers’ most pressing health and nutrition questions!
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Q. My husband was diagnosed with Type II diabetes about 6 months ago. We have been struggling with an appropriate diet for him. Both of us love nuts and dried fruit (we eat a lot of fresh fruit also), but I haven’t seen much about nuts in the numerous diabetes books we’ve been reading. My question is how can nuts and dried fruit figure in his diet and specifically, could a handful of nuts and fruits, say walnuts and almonds plus some dried cherries or cranberries, serve as a high-protein snack for midmorning or midafternoon? – Daphne
A: Nuts can certainly fit into a balanced diabetic eating plan! In fact, the American Diabetes Association listed nuts and berries on its Top 10 List of Superfoods to be included in a diabetic diet.
Nuts are a great option for diabetics because they provide fiber, protein, and magnesium. Fiber and protein help slow the digestion of food in the body and will allow sugars to be released more slowly. They also help to maximize nutrient absorption. Research has linked magnesium intake with lessening the risk for Type 2 diabetes. Food sources of magnesium include: whole grains, leafy greens and nuts. Also, walnuts, which you mention, are rich in omega-3 fats that have been shown to help improve heart health.
The most important thing to remember when snacking on nuts is that it can be easy to eat more than one serving, which is one ounce or about a small handful. Your best bet is to put the serving of nuts in a bowl and then snack out of that to keep your portion in check!
Pairing dried fruit with nuts is a perfect snacking option for diabetics (or anyone) because the fiber and protein from the nuts will help to slow the digestion and release of sugars from the dried fruit into the body. You may also want to consider freeze dried fruit, which only have 8 grams of carbohydrates per serving (traditional types of dried fruit have about 30 – 35 grams of carbohydrates per serving).
- Organic Apple Chips
- Simply Blueberries
- Simply Strawberries
- Simply Cherries
- Simply Raspberries
- Simply Bananas
Diabetes Superfoods. American Diabetic Association. Accessed on September 4, 2012.
Lopez-Ridaura, et al. Magnesium Intake and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Men and Women. Diabetes Care. January 2004. Vol 27 No. 1 134-140.
Malasanos, et al. Biological Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes Care. December 1991. Vol 13. No. 12 1160-1179.