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How do cashews help people with diabetes?

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Quick Answer

Consumption of cashews may help some people with type 2 diabetes by lowering LDL, or "bad," cholesterol levels and improving blood sugar levels, reports WebMD. The same is true of other tree nuts, such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts and pecans, as well.

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Full Answer

Many published studies evaluate the benefits of nut consumption for diabetics. In one study published in "Diabetes Care" in August 2011, researchers tracked the health of type 2 diabetes patients who ate 2 ounces of mixed tree nuts, including cashews, every day for three months, and then compared the patients' blood sugar and cholesterol levels to those of patients randomly assigned to two control groups, according to WebMD. The members of one of these groups were assigned to eat whole wheat, sugar-free muffins instead of nuts, and the other group ate half a muffin and half a portion of nuts. The participants who consumed 2 ounces of nuts daily had significantly reduced levels of LDL cholesterol and HbA1c, a marker of blood sugar control, compared to the members of the other two groups. All participants in the study continued to take their diabetes medications.

The researchers concluded that nuts should be included in the diets of type 2 diabetics as a way to increase protein intake without weight gain and as an important weapon for controlling levels of blood sugar and blood lipids, the two main goals of care for diabetics, reports WebMD.

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