In this day and age of the hustle and bustle, many do not have enough time to prepare healthy meals. Instead, to meet their dietary needs, we turn to convenience or fast food, usually high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, increasing the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) data shows that around the world, over 420 million people have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form, where cells do not produce enough insulin or fail to use it effectively, making it harder to manage the condition through diet control.
Even when following a nutritious diet, some individuals may not have access to all the vitamins and minerals their body needs. Thus, it is advisable for those at risk of diabetes or those diagnosed with pre-diabetes to take vitamin and mineral supplements.
Nuts are an excellent superfood, as they help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. One of the most nutritious nuts is the cashew nut.
Cashews are rich in protein, fibre, and healthy fats. But what does this mean for people with diabetes? Have you ever wondered if cashew nuts are good for managing diabetes?
This article will explain how this popular nut affects blood sugar levels and provide the nutritional value, glycemic index, and benefits of eating them.
Nutritional Value of Cashew Nut
Cashew nuts contain beneficial nutrients for your long-term health, including healthy fats and dietary fibre. These two components are essential for reducing the risk of heart disease.
As per the USDA, one hundred grams of cashews contain the following nutrients.
- Energy: 553 kCal
- Carbohydrates: 30.2g
- Fibre: 3.3g
- Protein: 18.2g
- Fat: 43.8g
Minerals and Vitamins:
- Calcium: 37 mg
- Magnesium: 292mg
- Potassium: 593mg
- Phosphorus: 660mg
- Zinc: 5.78mg
- Selenium: 19.9 µg
- Folate: 25 µg
- Vitamin K: 34.1 µg
Glycemic Index of Cashews
Cashew nuts have a glycemic index of 25, which is low enough to be safe to be eaten by diabetics. Moreover, cashew nuts won’t contribute to diabetes symptoms or raise blood sugars.
Eating cashews as part of a healthy diet can help with weight loss or prevent high blood glucose levels. For comparison, white bread has a glycemic index between 80–100, which can increase the sugar content in your bloodstream.
Can Diabetics Eat Cashews? Here is What Research Says
Cashews are an excellent choice for individuals with type 2 diabetes, as they are lower in fat than most other nuts. Moreover, cashews contain monounsaturated fat, which helps reduce high triglyceride levels and can reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Recent animal research found that cashew nut extract could reduce blood sugar levels in healthy rats and those with induced diabetes, suggesting that cashew nut extract has anti-diabetic properties.
Another recent study on the anti-diabetic potential of cashew nut (Anacardium occidentale) further confirms its effectiveness. The results show that cashew nut has the potential to be used for diabetes therapy and as a functional food component.
Cashew Nut for Diabetes – Advantages
Diabetes is a condition when the body fails to produce enough insulin or is unable to use the insulin it produces effectively. When this happens, glucose levels in the blood rise, leading to potential damage to other organs.
Hence, it is crucial to monitor blood sugar levels if you are at risk of developing diabetes. Cashew nuts are a nutrient-dense superfood that can help to keep blood sugar levels balanced, as they are high in fibre, making you feel fuller for longer and reducing your overall calorie intake.
Let’s dig deeper into the properties of cashew nuts to understand its relationship with blood sugar levels.
Vitamins and Minerals in Cashews
Cashew nuts are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals. They contain adequate magnesium and vitamin B6, which can help control blood sugar and blood pressure levels in individuals at risk of developing diabetes.
In addition, patients with this form of diabetes, particularly those with an uncontrolled glycemic profile, are usually afflicted with a long-term, latent magnesium deficit. Therefore, magnesium is especially beneficial for at-risk people, as it can help lower blood sugar levels and improve overall health.
Research shows that vitamin B6 can reduce blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. Therefore, incorporating cashew nuts into a healthy diet can help those at risk of diabetes maintain their blood sugar.
It can also help regulate blood pressure levels, making it a vital part of any healthy diet.
Research has indicated that a lack of Vitamin D and calcium can cause issues with glycemia. Hence, the combination of supplementing with both of these nutrients may help to regulate glucose metabolism.
Getting enough calcium is essential for your body to function normally. It helps keep your bones, blood vessels, and teeth healthy. It is especially beneficial for those at risk of developing diabetes as it can help keep blood sugar levels in check.
Too much sugar in the body can cause additional water to be pulled into the bloodstream, leading to organ failure. A calcium-rich diet can help reduce blood sugar levels and protect blood vessels.
Obesity is one of the leading causes of diabetes. It is no secret that nuts are effective in the weight loss process, and cashew nuts are no different.
Research has revealed that consuming cashews regularly can be beneficial for weight loss and even speed it up. It is due to the Omega-3 fatty acids present in cashews, which can help increase metabolism.
That can help to reduce any extra fat that may be in the body. Furthermore, cashews are a good source of protein and fibre while being low in calories, allowing one to feel fuller for longer.
The HealthifyMe Note
Eating cashew nuts can provide many benefits to your health. For example, antioxidants in cashew nuts can reduce the risk of developing cancer and also help prevent obesity or weight gain. However, to ensure that these nuts suit your needs, you should consult your dietitian or healthcare professional before consuming them.
Cashew Consumption – The Right Way
To maximise the health benefits of consuming cashews, eating them in the morning is best. Furthermore, one must soak them before consumption. Soaking them will make them easier to digest and give them a creamier texture. It also removes phytic acid in them.
Eating cashews the right way makes the nutrients, such as vitamins K, D, B6, phosphorus, zinc, and iron, more accessible to your body. Roasting them is not recommended as it may reduce the amount of antioxidants and vitamins and cause the loss of some healthy fats.
People with tree nut allergies should avoid consuming cashews, and those with kidney issues should be mindful of their oxalic acid content.
The HealthifyMe Note
Despite their potential downsides, the health benefits of cashews remain undisputed. They are a storehouse of great nutrients and offer immense health benefits. However, it is vital to take caution and choose dry-roasted or raw cashew varieties. Lastly, soaking cashews may reduce the phytate content, allowing the body to absorb more minerals and vitamins.
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Diabetes is a major public health issue with significant signs and symptoms related to high blood sugar levels. It is an increasingly prevalent risk factor for long-term poor health.
Besides lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease, cashew nuts and other nuts can also help to improve blood glucose levels and prevent type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, they can be helpful in weight management, which is another significant risk factor for diabetes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do cashews raise blood sugar?
A: Cashews are a tree nut packed with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. They are also low in carbohydrates, which makes them an excellent snack for people with diabetes.
While they contain natural sugars, they are unlikely to cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Cashews help regulate blood sugar levels due to their high amounts of magnesium, which helps to boost insulin sensitivity. However, as with any other food, moderation must be practised while consuming cashew nuts.
Q: Do cashews have a lot of sugar?
A: Cashews are a low-sugar nut, containing only 2 grams of sugar per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving. It is much lower than other popular nuts, such as almonds.
Cashews are also a good source of healthy fats and protein, making them an excellent snack option. Additionally, they are rich in minerals such as copper, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.
Q: How many cashews can I eat a day?
A: One must consume approximately 30g (about 18 cashews) daily to reap the benefits of healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Eating more than the recommended serving size could cause weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Moreover, too many cashews can cause an upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhoea. Therefore, it is best to adhere to this recommended serving size of 30g daily to stay healthy.
Q: Do cashews raise insulin?
A: Cashews are a nut packed with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, making them an excellent snack for people looking to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. However, some studies have suggested that consuming large amounts of cashews can raise insulin levels, which can be counterproductive for people trying to manage their diabetes. The best way to ensure that cashews don’t raise insulin levels is to limit their consumption to 30g per day and combine them with other nutritious foods such as vegetables and lean proteins.
The Research Sources
1. The World Health Organisation data on Diabetes – https://www.who.int/health-topics/diabetes#tab=tab_1
2. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: SR Legacy | Food Category: Nut and Seed Products | FDC ID: 170162 | NDB Number:12087 – https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170162/nutrients
3. Ajao FO, Akanmu O, Iyedupe MO, Comparative Effects of Cashew Nut, Leaf and Stem Bark (Anacardium Occidentale L.) on Hyperglycemia and Associated Abnormalities in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats, Journal of Drug Delivery and Therapeutics. 2022; 12(4):47-55 – https://jddtonline.info/index.php/jddt/article/view/5444/4771
4. Damsud, T., Tedphum, T. ., Sukkrong, C. ., & Lila, M. A. (2021). Anti Diabetic Potential of Cashew Nut (Anacardium occidentale) Shoots and Leaves Extracts under Simulated In Vitro Digestion. Science & Technology Asia, 26(2), 138–144. Retrieved from: – https://ph02.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/SciTechAsia/article/view/219996
5. Barbagallo M, Dominguez LJ. Magnesium and type 2 diabetes. World J Diabetes. 2015 Aug 25;6(10):1152-7. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v6.i10.1152. PMID: 26322160; PMCID: PMC4549665. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549665/
6. Mascolo E, Vernì F. Vitamin B6 and Diabetes: Relationship and Molecular Mechanisms. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 May 23;21(10):3669. doi: 10.3390/ijms21103669. PMID: 32456137; PMCID: PMC7279184. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7279184/
7. Pittas AG, Lau J, Hu FB, Dawson-Hughes B. The role of vitamin D and calcium in type 2 diabetes. A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jun;92(6):2017-29. doi: 10.1210/jc.2007-0298. Epub 2007 Mar 27. PMID: 17389701; PMCID: PMC2085234. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2085234/
8. Baer DJ, Novotny JA. Metabolisable Energy from Cashew Nuts is Less than that Predicted by Atwater Factors. Nutrients. 2018 Dec 24;11(1):33. doi: 10.3390/nu11010033. PMID: 30586843; PMCID: PMC6356908.- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6356908/