Improve blood sugar control with tree nuts

The science on nuts keeps getting better and better. Yesterday, I told you about men and women who reversed atherosclerosis by following the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts. In just four months, they reduced plaque in their carotid arteries, improved blood flow to the brain, and reduced their stroke and cardiovascular disease risk. And today, I’ll tell you about two new studies showing how men and women at risk for developing Type II diabetes benefited from eating a handful of nuts each day.

The first study followed 54 obese or overweight prediabetics. During the study’s first four months, the participants followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented daily with 57 grams (about a handful) of pistachios. Then, there was a two-week washout period before participants started an alternative, nut-free diet. So each participant acted as his or her own control in this “crossover” study.

While they were on the Mediterranean diet plus pistachios, the subjects significantly lowered their blood sugar, insulin, and insulin resistance. And they didn’t experience any weight gain or changes to BMI (body mass index). Nor did their cholesterol change.

The second study followed 137 adults with an elevated risk for diabetes. For this study, researchers randomly divided the participants into three groups. The first group ate 43 grams of almonds per day–either with breakfast or lunch–for four weeks. The second group ate 43 grams of almonds alone as a snack. The third group ate no almonds.

Men and women in the two nut groups felt less hungry than those in the no-nut group. And they had lower blood glucose levels following meals. Interestingly, the group who ate almonds as a snack, instead of with meals, had the biggest improvements. Frequent smaller feedings, like healthy snacking, helps keep blood sugar, insulin, and metabolism in better balance.

And here again, the men and women in the two nut groups did not gain weight from the extra dietary fat. In addition, the men and women didn’t experience any significant changes in blood cholesterol. (So once again, we see just how irrelevant cholesterol really is.)

These two studies did have one major shortcoming. They didn’t show an effect on hemoglobin A1C, which is the longer-term blood sugar measurement doctors use to monitor and manage diabetes. I might not reasonably expect to see much of an effect on hemoglobin A1C in the one-month study. But I thought we would have–and should have–seen an improvement in the four-month study. So there is definitely cause for more research.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Long-term clinical trials on natural foods…and natural products…simply don’t happen very often in today’s research world. But we need these clinical trials to establish clear treatment protocols. These protocols are basically “instruction manuals” for doctors

Unfortunately, nuts won’t likely be added to any official treatment protocols anytime soon. But just about everyone can and should eat a handful of them every day. They act like a potent dietary supplement in the body. They’re full of concentrated healthy essential fatty acids. And they’re rich in carotenoids and other antioxidants, as well as key bioavailable minerals.

Of course, nuts are also an essential component of my “Bear Diet” or “Top of the Food Chain Diet,” developed with my daughter Alicia, a post-graduate researcher at University of Maryland Medical Center. Subscribers to my Insiders’ Cures newsletter can learn more about this common sense diet in my special report called, The “Top of the Food Chain” Cure for Obesity. If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.

While nuts are a healthy addition to any diet, they can’t help you conquer Type II diabetes all by themselves.

If you have Type II diabetes, make sure to remain under the care of a qualified physician. High blood sugar, like high blood pressure, is just too dangerous not to manage it as effectively as possible. Even if that means taking a drug to keep it under control. In fact, I recommend asking your physician about metformin. It’s a safe, effective, generic drug treatment for high blood sugar and diabetes. Plus, as you may know by now, it derives from an ancient herbal remedy known as “French lilac” or “goat’s rue.”

Unfortunately, you can’t buy French lilac as an herbal supplement in the U.S. And I don’t anticipate that sad fact changing anytime soon, since the USDA in its wisdom classifies French lilac as a “noxious weed.” But the pharmaceutical version (metformin) is a safe and time-tested treatment for Type II diabetes. In fact, tomorrow, I’ll tell you about more benefits of this naturally derived drug.


1. “Eating Nuts May Help Pause Path to Type 2 Diabetes,” Medscape ( 5/30/2014

2. “Effect of Pistachio Intake on Insulin Resistance and metabolic risk markers – the EPIRDEM Study,” 2014 European Congress on Obesity. Abstract T5:OS2.3, presented May 31, 2014