Peanuts are packed with a variety of nutritious properties that may benefit people with type 2 diabetes. Eating peanuts and peanut products may help:
- promote weight loss
- lower the risk of cardiovascular disease
- control blood sugar
- prevent people from developing diabetes in the first place
However, peanuts also carry some potential risks. If you have type 2 diabetes, read on to learn more about the risks and benefits of eating peanuts.
Benefits of peanuts for people with type 2 diabetes
Adding peanuts and peanut butter to your diet may be beneficial, especially if you have type 2 diabetes. While not technically nuts, peanuts provide many of the same health benefits as tree nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, and pecans. Peanuts are also less expensive than most other nuts, which is great if you’re looking to save money but still want the nutritional rewards.
Peanuts help control blood sugar
If you have diabetes, you need to consider the glycemic content of the foods you eat. Glycemic content is based on how quickly your body converts carbohydrates into glucose, or blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) is a 100-point scale that rates foods on how rapidly they cause blood sugar to rise. Foods that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar are given a higher value. Water, which has no effect on blood sugar, has a GI value of 0. Peanuts have a GI value of 13, which makes them a low GI food.
According to an article in the British Journal of Nutrition, eating peanuts or peanut butter in the morning may help control your blood sugar throughout the day. Peanuts may also help lessen the insulin spike of higher GI foods when paired together. One reason that peanuts may help control blood sugar is because they contain a large amount of magnesium. A single serving of peanuts (about 28 peanuts) contains 12 percent of the daily recommended amount of magnesium. And magnesium, according to a report by the Journal of Internal Medicine, helps to maintain blood sugar levels.
Peanuts may lower the risk for cardiovascular disease
A research paper from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition shows that eating peanuts may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, a common complication of diabetes. Adding nuts to your diet may also help lower high blood pressure, another common complication of diabetes. Learn more about hypertension in people with diabetes.
Peanuts may help with weight control
Peanuts may help you feel fuller and have fewer hunger cravings, which can help you maintain a healthy weight and better control your blood glucose levels.
Peanuts may lower the overall risk for diabetes
Eating peanuts or peanut butter may lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association. Peanuts are high in unsaturated fat and other nutrients that help your body’s ability to regulate insulin.
Risks of peanuts for people with type 2 diabetes
For all the benefits peanuts may provide for managing type 2 diabetes, some caution is advised. Here are some peanut-eating concerns to watch out for.
Omega 6 fatty acids
Peanuts contain more omega-6 fatty acids than other nuts. There’s evidence that too much omega-6 may be linked to increased inflammation, which may increase your diabetes symptoms and risk for obesity. So, be sure to have a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats in your diet.
Salt and sugar
Peanut products often contain added salt and sugar, which you’ll want to limit if you have diabetes. Peanut butter, in particular, can include added fat, oil, and sugar. Choosing a natural peanut butter with few, if any, ingredients other than peanuts is your best option.
Perhaps the biggest risk of peanuts is that they can cause a serious allergic reaction for some people. Learn to recognize the symptoms so you can help yourself or a loved one if this happens.
While peanuts pack many advantages for those with type 2 diabetes, they are relatively high in calories and should be eaten in moderation. According to the USDA nutrition database, one half cup of raw peanuts contains over 400 calories. To reduce your calorie intake, try eating peanuts in place of, rather than in addition to, refined grain products and red and processed meats.
How to eat peanuts
The best way to eat peanuts is in their purest form, without extra salt and sugar.
An article from the British Journal of Nutrition shows that eating peanut butter for breakfast may decrease your appetite and control your blood sugar throughout the day.
If you’re allergic to or simply don’t like peanuts, there are other options that have many of the same benefits:
- Other nuts. Tree nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, have similar nutrient profiles to peanuts, and are beneficial in managing type 2 diabetes.
- Seeds. When it comes to peanut butter alternatives, think seeds! Sunflower seed butter, for example, is a great source of protein and contains about twice as much magnesium as peanut butter.
More than 16 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes, which can cause complications such as cardiovascular disease, blindness, and renal failure. Your diet is an important part of preventing and managing this disease.
Research has shown many benefits of including peanuts and peanut products in your diet.
Peanuts deliver many of the same health benefits as tree nuts and are a less expensive alternative.
Peanuts should be eaten in moderation and in the purest form possible.