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Diabetes and Blood Sugar
Peanuts Decrease the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Diet is considered to be a major component to both managing complications and decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Peanuts and peanut butter have been shown to positively affect blood sugar control and help decrease the risk of diabetes and its complications. Just a small handful of peanuts or a spoonful of peanut butter a day is all that is needed to have an effect.
A major study by Harvard School of Public Health showed that the risk of type 2 diabetes decreases the more frequently peanuts and peanut butter are consumed. Participants who consumed a 1-ounce serving of peanuts or one tablespoon of peanut butter, 1 to 4 times a week, saw about a 10% reduction in risk, and those consuming 1-ounce of peanuts or one tablespoon, 5 or more times a week, decreased their risk by more than 25% (Jiang, 2002). Another large study suggested that replacing a serving of red meat with a serving of peanuts daily decreased type 2 diabetes risk by 21% (Pan, 2011).
Peanuts Help Control Blood Sugar
Glycemic index is a point scale used to compare how high your blood sugar and insulin spike after eating the same amount of carbohydrates from different foods. Foods that are digested more slowly and release sugar gradually into the blood stream have a lower GI. The GI content of foods is measured on a 100-point scale, with 100 being the highest GI foods. Peanuts have a GI of 14 making them a low GI food (Jenkins, 1981).
Glycemic load also measures blood sugar spikes, but uses the typical serving size of each food item instead of a standard carbohydrate amount, making it an even better tool to show how different foods eaten can affect blood sugar (Salmeron, 1997).
Foods with a higher GI and GL can cause blood sugar and insulin to spike soon after eating, followed by a drop in blood sugar to levels lower than before consumption. This crash in blood sugar can make a person feel tired and hungry for more food, and the rollercoaster cycle of highs and lows can contribute to the development of pre-diabetes and diabetes (Jenkins, 1981). In addition, low-GI diets can significantly improve long-term glucose control in people with diabetes, similar to the amounts achieved with medication (Ajala, 2013).
Peanuts and peanut butter are both low GI and GL foods, due to their content of healthy oils, protein, and fiber that have a positive effect on blood sugar control. Research has shown that peanuts can help control blood sugar in both healthy individuals and those with type 2 diabetes (Kirkmeyer, 2000 and Jenkins, 2011). Peanuts and peanut butter have even been shown to help lessen the spike in blood sugar when paired with high carbohydrate or high GL foods (Johnston, 2005).
Snacking on peanuts can help to maintain blood sugar in between meals. One study showed that snacking on peanuts in place of high carbohydrate foods improved blood sugar control and lowered cholesterol in type 2 diabetic men and women (Kirkmeyer, 2000 and Jenkins, 2011).
A recent study showed that peanuts and peanut butter eaten in the morning have an effect on blood sugar throughout the day in women at high risk for type 2 diabetes. Not only did consuming 1.5 ounces of peanuts or peanut butter at breakfast help to decrease blood sugar spikes early in the day, effects were also seen hours later when participants showed more even blood sugar control following a high carbohydrate lunch in the absence of peanuts or peanut butter (Mattes, 2012).
Peanuts are a Good Source of Magnesium
Magnesium has been shown to play a role in risk reduction for diabetes due to its positive effects on the release and effectiveness of insulin in the body (Mooren, 2011). Peanuts contain 12% of the daily value for magnesium, making them a “good source” according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In one study, individuals fed peanuts on a daily basis for three weeks, not only had a higher intake of magnesium, but blood magnesium also improved to above recommended levels (Alpher, 2003).
One study showed that low magnesium intake is linked with an increased risk of diabetes (Lopez-Ridaura , 2003). And in another study low magnesium intake was also linked to high type 2 diabetes incidence (Larsson, 2007).
Magnesium also plays a role in metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and insulin resistance in people of all ages. Studies show an association between magnesium deficiency and insulin resistance in children (Huerta, 2005) as well as inflammation and metabolic syndrome in middle age and older adults (Song, 2005).
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