Chennai February, 2018: According to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition published by Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF) by Dr. V Mohan, Chairman Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre and Madras Diabetes Research Foundation his colleagues, regular consumption of cashew nut may actually be beneficial for one’s health including people with type 2 diabetes. Findings suggest that regular consumption of raw cashew nuts can result in significant decrease in the systolic blood pressure and a significant increase in the good cholesterol or the HDL cholesterol levels.
It was earlier believed that all nuts were bad as they contain quite a lot of calories and people believed that taking nuts would lead to deleterious health effects including obesity and high blood cholesterol. During the last decade, the nutritional value of nuts and their health benefits have been proved by many studies. Due to their unique nutrient, especially the fatty acid composition, it is now known that nuts not only do not worsen the lipid profile and body weight but also may actually confer beneficial effects. However, most studies have been done in western countries with nuts like almonds, pistachios and walnuts. Moreover very few have been done in diabetic patients.
Cashew nuts are generally not recommended by nutritionists and doctors in India. But what is not known is that cashew nuts contain healthy fats such as monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). They are also a good source of antioxidants, plant sterols and other micronutrients such as iron, magnesium and zinc.
Dr. V. Mohan says ‘As there is a paucity of studies on cashew nuts particularly in Indians and none in people with diabetes, we took up a large randomized clinical trial to study the effect of regular cashew nut consumption on body weight, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), lipid profile- triglycerides, total cholesterol, bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) on Indians with type 2 diabetes. This was a twelve weeks intervention trial where we gave 30gms of raw cashew nuts daily to the experimental group participants. The control group was advised to continue their usual diet. Both groups were well matched at baseline. The results were very encouraging. After 12 weeks, there was a significant decrease in the systolic blood pressure in the group that consumed cashew nut and there was also a significant increase in the good cholesterol or the HDL cholesterol levels in this group. There was no deleterious effect of cashew nut consumption on body weight, blood sugars, glycated hemoglobin or LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
Dr R. M. Anjana, Director Madras Diabetes Research Foundation & Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, one of the key investigators of the study adds, “It must be pointed out that the study was done using raw cashew nuts. The beneficial effects of cashew may be mitigated, if the cashew nut is salted or roasted in unhealthy oils or ghee. Regular consumption of cashew nut can also help in improving the satiety. This will lead to a reduction of food intake especially carbohydrate intake of the subsequent meal. These could be one of the mechanisms to explain the lack of weight gain in this study despite taking cashew nuts which are quite high in calories.”
SUMMARY OF STUDY: CASHEW NUT BENEFITS IN PEOPLE WITH TYPE 2 DIABETES:
- Significant decrease in systolic blood pressure.
- Slight decrease in diastolic blood pressure.
- Significant increase in HDL good cholesterol.
- No deleterious effects on body weight, glucose or LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
- Significant increase in dietary monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) intake.
ABOUT MADRAS DIABETES RESEARCH FOUNDATION:
Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF), a unique 100% nonprofit research centre exclusively devoted for advanced research on diabetes and its complications, was established in 1996. Madras Diabetes Research Foundation is recognized by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as an “ICMR Centre for Advanced Research on Diabetes”.