If you have diabetes, you may wonder if you can enjoy cashew nuts as a snack or as part of your meals. Cashew nuts are delicious and nutritious, but they also contain carbohydrates and calories that can affect your blood sugar levels. So, can people with diabetes eat cashew nuts? The answer is yes, but with some caution and moderation.
Cashew nuts are a type of tree nut that are native to Brazil and India. They have a creamy texture and a sweet flavor that make them popular in many cuisines and dishes. Cashew nuts are also rich in protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can benefit your health in many ways.
Some of the benefits of cashew nuts for people with diabetes are:
- They can help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Cashew nuts contain unsaturated fats that can improve your blood lipid profile and lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. They also contain antioxidants that can prevent oxidative damage to your blood vessels and reduce inflammation. Heart disease is a common complication of diabetes, so eating cashew nuts can help protect your heart health.
- They can help control your blood sugar levels and prevent spikes. Cashew nuts have a low glycemic index (GI), which means they do not cause a rapid rise in your blood sugar levels after eating them. They also have a high fiber content, which can slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and prevent sudden spikes in your blood sugar levels. Fiber can also help you feel full for longer and reduce your appetite and cravings.
- They can help prevent weight gain and obesity. Cashew nuts have a high satiety value, which means they can keep you satisfied for longer and reduce your calorie intake. They also have a high thermic effect, which means they can increase your metabolism and energy expenditure. Weight gain and obesity are risk factors for diabetes and its complications, so eating cashew nuts can help you maintain a healthy weight.
However, cashew nuts also have some drawbacks for people with diabetes that you should be aware of:
- They are high in calories and carbohydrates. Cashew nuts have about 160 calories and 9 grams of carbohydrates per ounce (28 grams), which is higher than most other nuts. If you eat too many cashew nuts, you may exceed your daily calorie and carbohydrate needs and cause weight gain and high blood sugar levels. Therefore, you should limit your portion size and count the calories and carbohydrates from cashew nuts as part of your meal plan.
- They may contain added salt or sugar. Some cashew nuts are roasted or flavored with salt or sugar to enhance their taste and shelf life. However, these additives can increase the sodium and sugar content of cashew nuts and negatively affect your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Therefore, you should choose unsalted and unsweetened cashew nuts or read the nutrition labels carefully before buying or eating them.
How to Include Cashew Nuts in Your Diet
If you have diabetes, you can eat cashew nuts as long as you follow some tips and guidelines:
- Eat cashew nuts in moderation. The American Diabetes Association recommends eating no more than one ounce (28 grams) of nuts per day as part of a balanced diet. This is equivalent to about 18 cashew nuts or a small handful. You can eat them as a snack between meals or add them to your salads, stir-fries, soups, oatmeal, yogurt or smoothies.
- Measure your portion size. To avoid overeating cashew nuts, you should measure your portion size using a measuring cup, a scale or your hand. You can also use pre-portioned packages or containers to control your intake.
- Count the calories and carbohydrates from cashew nuts. Cashew nuts are not free foods that you can eat without worrying about their impact on your blood sugar levels. You should include the calories and carbohydrates from cashew nuts in your daily meal plan and adjust your insulin or medication doses accordingly.
- Choose unsalted and unsweetened cashew nuts. To avoid excess sodium and sugar intake, you should opt for raw or dry-roasted cashew nuts without any added salt or sugar. You can also season them with herbs, spices or lemon juice for extra flavor.
- Monitor your blood sugar levels. To see how cashew nuts affect your blood sugar levels, you should check your blood glucose before and after eating them. If you notice any significant changes or spikes in your blood sugar levels, you may need to reduce your portion size or frequency of eating cashew nuts.
Cashew nuts are a healthy and tasty food that people with diabetes can eat in moderation. Cashew nuts can help lower your cholesterol levels, control your blood sugar levels, prevent weight gain and obesity, and provide you with many nutrients and antioxidants. However, cashew nuts are also high in calories and carbohydrates, so you should limit your portion size and count them as part of your meal plan. You should also choose unsalted and unsweetened cashew nuts and monitor your blood sugar levels after eating them. By following these tips and guidelines, you can enjoy cashew nuts as part of a healthy and balanced diet for diabetes. Remember to consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medication. Happy snacking!
Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)
Internal Medicine Specialist
Phone : 85000 23456