Peanuts and Diabetes: Benefits, Risks and More
Peanuts are highly nutritious and have tremendous health benefits. However, what is its connection with diabetes? Let's find out!
Peanuts are the essential food items which help control the risk of diabetes. These nuts are readily available in the Indian subcontinent and are a common ingredient in Indian dishes. Peanuts are also known as groundnut or monkey nuts. They have a high nutritional profile. They help cure vitamin deficiencies and help prevent various health risks.
Peanuts are a legume crop which is widely grown in tropics and subtropics. These are rich in protein, fat and fibre. Although it contains fat, it is a healthy fat. Therefore, it is a good food choice for people suffering from lifestyle disorders like diabetes. Most of the problems associated with diabetes, like blood sugar levels, cardiovascular disease risk etc., could be controlled by peanuts.
Diabetes is a chronic lifestyle disorder where the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to control blood sugar levels. It has become a primary lifestyle disorder in India. With the growing spread of the disease, it is essential to gain control over such conditions. People with diabetes need to regulate their blood sugar levels. Therefore, most people with diabetes must follow a nutritionist recommended diet plan to gain some control over the disease.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to cure diabetes completely, but we can still take some measures to minimise its effect. Peanuts can play a significant role in this. As peanuts are a low GI level food, they don’t spike blood glucose levels. Hence they are a safe choice for a non-allergic person who has diabetes.
Diabetes is a function of insulin disorder disease that occurs due to a lack of insulin secretion from the pancreas. There are three major kinds. All categories have a primary effect on insulin levels but differ in some other factors.
First, let us look at type-1, type-2, and gestational diabetes.
Studies show that type-2 diabetes is more common in people above 20 years of age than youth. 80% of people who have diabetes are from low and mid-income countries like India. Approximately 95% of people have type-2 diabetes, while only 5-10% have type-1 diabetes. However, an inactive and sedentary lifestyle makes more youngsters prone to type 2 diabetes.
- Type-1 is an autoimmune reaction in which your body commands not to produce enough insulin. If you have type-1 diabetes, you have to take insulin every day. There is no prevention of type-1 diabetes.
- Type-2: This type of diabetes happens when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin. Most people have type-2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes- This type of diabetes develops in pregnant women who never had diabetes. A pregnant woman with gestational diabetes can put her baby at risk of various health problems. It goes away after the baby is born and increases the risk of type-2 diabetes in future life.
Just like peas or beans, peanuts have similar properties. Peanuts contain healthy fats and vegetable proteins. Peanuts are good antioxidant food. They are rich in minerals like zinc and iron. Also, they have a high quantity of fibre. Hence, they play a crucial role in lowering the symptoms of cardiovascular diseases like heart diseases, blood pressure and high cholesterol. A diabetic person is likely to get cardiovascular diseases. These ailments are connected with the blood sugar level and hence with diabetes. Peanuts are healthy nuts with an excellent nutritional profile to control this.
According to USDA, one hundred grams of raw peanuts contain the following nutrients:
- Energy: 567 Kcal
- Protein: 25.8g
- Fat: 49.2g
- Carbs: 16.1g
- Fibre: 8.5g
- Calcium: 92mg
- Iron: 4.58mg
- Zinc: 3.27mg
Peanuts for Diabetes: Benefits
Adding peanuts and their derivatives like peanut butter to the daily diet is beneficial. It is effective in restoring omega-3 in the body. Apart from that, it is a rich protein source. Most fitness athletes use peanut butter daily to complete their nutritional requirements.
Peanuts are also beneficial in diabetes. Some studies show that having a good amount of peanuts in your daily diet may lower the risk of type-2 diabetes. However, the effect of this study is visible only in women.
Now that we established that peanuts could lower type 2 diabetes risk let’s look at its health benefits. These health benefits are specifically crucial for people with diabetes.
Good for Diabetes
People with diabetes need to have a good eye on the food’s glycemic index or their blood sugar level, effect of carbohydrate on blood sugar.
High GI level foods include fast-digesting carbs like sugars and instant energy drinks. A person with diabetes should try to consume only low GI level foods. These can be oats, wheat, carrots, or chickpeas. Studies have found that foods having low GI levels can lower cholesterol levels and prevent obesity. Therefore, reducing these two will automatically reduce the risk of diabetes.
Reduces the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
Peanuts are beneficial for reducing blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels and keeping BMI in order. They are also helpful in lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Cardiovascular diseases are a common complication of diabetes. It also controls blood pressure, a common problem in people living with the disease.
Studies have found that having peanuts or walnuts may lower 13-19% of overall cardiovascular disease risk. Apart from this, it also reduces the risk of 15-23% of coronary heart disease. This study proved that consuming some specific nuts could relate inversely to total cardiovascular disease and heart disease.
High in Fibre
Peanuts are a kind of legume. Beans and legumes are rich in fibre. A fibre-rich diet is commonly beneficial for making healthy bowel movements and improving digestion. Therefore, it enhances the absorption of food and nutrients in your body. Fibres also help to reduce cholesterol levels. In addition, fibres allow us to stay full for longer and avoid taking extra calories. Thus, it satiates your hunger and prevents weight gain.
In people with diabetes, it helps reduce or slow down glucose absorption. Therefore, it results in less fluctuation of blood glucose levels. Having a high fibre diet is beneficial for type-2 diabetes. Studies have found that having good fibre food can help in diabetes management and improves glycemic control. Apart from peanuts, you should take fibres from other sources also, like whole grains and fibre-rich vegetables, for this purpose.
Helps Manage Weight
Peanuts contain a good amount of fat. Peanuts contain approximately 50% of fat. It is essential to know that one must avoid high-fat foods. However, peanuts contain healthy fats, which is permissible. Healthy fats mean unsaturated fats and do not boost cholesterol and body fat. Peanuts have high fibre content and help to keep you fuller for a long time.
Studies have found that consuming peanuts and peanut butter effectively reduces weight and improves overall health. In addition, it is very beneficial for adolescents to develop their bodies. This study examined children’s BMI and classified them as peanuts and non-peanuts consumers. Peanut consumers are less likely to develop an increased BMI and be overweight than non-peanut consumers.
Contains Omega-6 and Omega-3
Peanuts are a rich source of fats, including omega-3. They are also rich in omega-6, which is beneficial for type-2 diabetes. However, both omega-3 and omega-6 fats help manage type-2 diabetes.
Studies have found that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids help minimise the effect of type-2 diabetes and could be effective against type-1 diabetes. Study data shows omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides and blood cholesterol. However, it might increase LDL cholesterol. A study in 2016 found that having a high concentration of omega-6 may lead to inflammation, but it can be beneficial in reducing the risk of type-2 diabetes.
Peanut Butter and Diabetes
Peanuts may help prevent diabetes, but not all peanuts based foods are helpful. For example, peanut candies have a high glycemic index and are not suitable for people with diabetes. Additionally, peanut butter may contain some added preservatives, salt and other additional ingredients. Additives such as some fats present in peanut butter are unhealthy. You should use a pure form of peanut butter; it will help prevent diabetes and reduce bad cholesterol. Always check the ingredient list and nutritional index of peanuts and peanut butter products before purchasing.
Peanuts: Possible Health Risks and Complications
It is also vital to focus on eating them properly. Getting an overdose might cause complications and health risks. Some people are allergic to peanuts and their derivatives. They should avoid consuming it. Peanuts might help manage type-2 diabetes for all its properties, but some measures need to be there.
Here are some peanut eating measures and risks.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Inflammation
Peanuts contain more omega-6 than any other nuts. Research has shown that having too much omega-6 may lead to inflammation. It may reverse diabetes benefits and the risk of getting obese and diabetic. This research stated that increasing the intake of omega-6 fatty acids ARA or its precursor lipoic acid LA will increase the risk of inflammation. Ensure that you maintain a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in your diet. You should have 5%-10% of your daily calorie intake from omega-6. Omega-3 intake should not exceed 3000 mg per day. It is safe to have this much in your daily diet, as it is unlikely to cause discomfort or health risk.
High Salt and Sugar
Peanut products often contain salt and sugar, which are not suitable for a person with diabetes. Just like peanut butter, peanuts too contain added salt and flavour. Although this maks e it tastier, it isn’t suitable for people with diabetes. Always try to use a pure form of peanut butter and always check for a list of ingredients. Make sure that it is pure and does not contain added salt and sugar. If you consume a natural form of peanut butter only, it will help manage type-2 diabetes.
According to USDA, 100g of natural peanut butter contains the following:
- Energy: 594 Kcal
- Protein: 25g
- Fat: 50g
- Carbs: 21.9g
- Fibre: 9.4g
- Calcium: 62mg
- Iron: 2.25mg
Peanut allergies are the most common form of food allergy. About 1 out of 50 children are allergic to peanuts. Peanuts may create allergic reactions such as hives, redness and itchiness on the skin. An allergic reaction occurs within a few minutes after having peanut products. These allergic reactions happen due to an overactive immune system or having allergies to some other food components found in peanuts. Always ask your doctor before consumption if you have an allergy to certain foods.
High in Calories
Peanuts offer advantages in the case of type-2 diabetes. But they are high in calories. So one must consume them in moderation. According to USDA data, a half-cup of raw peanuts contains 400 calories. One can use it as a meal but should not combine it with other grains as it will increase so many calories. If you have diabetes, then you should take it in moderation. A recommended peanut serving can be a handful of peanuts or 1-2 tbsp of peanut butter daily.
Alternatives to Peanuts
If you are allergic to peanuts, you can have some other nuts with similar benefits. Some of them are:
- Tree nuts such as walnuts reduce blood sugar levels just like peanuts. In addition, walnuts help manage type-2 diabetes. Eating four walnuts a day is good for its benefits and curing various diseases.
- Seeds such as sunflower seeds and sunflower seed butter are good alternatives to peanut butter. It is an excellent source of protein and contains twice the magnesium and twice peanut butter.
The Bottom Line
According to 2019 data, more than 77 million people in India live with diabetes. This number is increasing every year. Diabetes comes in various types like type-1, type-2 and prediabetic. Out of these types, type-2 diabetes is most prevalent in people who have diabetes. As we have seen from the evidence above, peanuts are very helpful in curing this type of diabetes. It helps add a good amount of protein, healthy fats and fibres to your diet.
Peanuts help lower blood sugar levels, reduce cardiovascular disease risk, and have more health benefits. Therefore, one should not exceed the daily limits of peanuts. However, people who are allergic to peanuts should avoid and try some other nuts with similar benefits like sunflower seeds or walnuts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. How many peanuts a person with diabetes should eat a day?
A. The American Diabetic Association recommends having 25 g of peanuts a day for diabetic women and 38 g of peanuts for diabetic men daily. If taken in this amount, one can see a reduction in blood sugar levels. It will reduce the effect of diabetes and other complications which come with diabetes like blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and heart disease.
Q. Are peanuts good for diabetes?
A. Peanuts have a shallow glycemic index. It has GI 4, which is very safe for people with diabetes. A low glycemic index means it will not spike a sudden rise in blood sugar level. On the contrary, it will absorb slowly into your body with a continuous energy supply. Therefore, this is why peanuts can be a good snack for people with diabetes.
Q. Do peanuts spike blood sugar?
A. Peanuts are not only good in their nutritional properties and beneficial for reducing blood sugar levels. It does not spike blood sugar levels at all. These are considered healthy nuts for people with type-2 diabetes. Even if you do not have diabetes, you can go for it as it has several other health benefits.
Q. How do you flush sugar out of your body?
A. Kidneys have a natural mechanism of removing extra sugar from the body. It naturally filters extra about of glucose and flushes that out. One can also try a salt-free dinner approach to remove free water from the body.
Q. Which nuts should people with diabetes avoid?
A. Avoid nuts that contain salt. It has shown that salt is bad for blood pressure patients. Most patients with diabetes are also blood pressure patients. Peanuts are a good choice for them. However, they should avoid chocolate covered peanuts as they are high in carbs and may increase blood sugar levels.
Q. Are eggs good for people with diabetes?
A. The American Diabetes Association considers eggs a good choice for people with diabetes. One large egg contains about 0.5 g of carbs. Therefore, eggs are almost carbs free and do not raise your blood sugar level. Eggs are high in cholesterol, but they have healthy cholesterol. Hence, they replace unhealthy cholesterol, which is terrible for the heart and cardiovascular health.
Q. What are the disadvantages of peanuts?
A. Having an allergy to peanuts is a common disadvantage. It is prevalent for someone to be allergic to peanuts. Out of every 50 children, one is peanut allergic. Apart from this, if one crosses the daily limit of peanuts, it may lead to complications like increased inflammation, increased sodium intake, and side effects like redness and itchiness on the skin.
Q. Is cheese okay for people with diabetes?
A. Yes, cheese is okay for people with diabetes. There is no increase in the sugar levels if a person with diabetes has cheese. Therefore, people with diabetes can consume cheese as a healthy ingredient in their diet. However, it would help if you took cheese in moderation. Too much cheese may be harmful to both people with and without diabetes.
Q. Can a person with diabetes have peanut butter?
A. Peanut butter contains essential nutrients which are beneficial to managing type-2 diabetes. Peanuts and peanut butter reduce blood sugar levels and cardiovascular and heart disease risk. However, it is necessary to eat in moderation as most processed peanut butter contains added salt. However, while buying peanut butter, read the label. Check the additives. Try to opt for unsweetened and natural peanut butter from reputed brands.
Q. What drink lowers blood sugar?
A. There are so many drinks available as a medicine or supplement for reducing blood sugar levels. A popular homemade drink is methi dana water or fenugreek seeds water. It can lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. However, this is because it contains fibres that slow down metabolism and continuous absorption of nutrients. Its high fibre content also keeps your bowel movements regular and healthy.