The ability of nuts to improve the blood lipid profile and reduce the risk of CHD is now well established. The interest that health effects of nuts have gained recently has brought the possible benefits of consuming nuts, such as improvement in the conditions of the metabolic syndrome, and their potential to prevent and control diabetes into focus. Results from cohort studies have associated nut consumption with a reduced risk of developing diabetes and CVD. However, few randomised controlled trials have assessed the effect of nuts on diabetes control, and those that have been undertaken have shown improvements in blood lipids but not in the glycaemic control. Diabetes agencies are increasingly recognising the importance of controlling postprandial glycaemia fluctuations. Acute feeding studies indicate that nuts have minimal effects on rising postprandial blood glucose levels when eaten alone, and diminish the postprandial glycaemic response when consumed with high-glycaemic index carbohydrate foods in both normoglycaemic and type 2 diabetic individuals. Nuts have a healthy nutritional profile, high in MUFA and PUFA, are a good source of vegetable protein and are rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Incorporation of nuts in the diet may therefore improve the overall nutritional quality of the diet. While more research is required to establish the ability of nuts to improve glycaemic control in the long run, early data indicate that the inclusion of nuts in the diets of individuals with diabetes and the metabolic syndrome is warranted, in view of their potential to reduce CHD risk.
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