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Replacing carbohydrate in diet with healthy fats may work wonders for your diabetes; not only do healthy fats reduce blood sugar but favourably affect blood cholesterol levels as well. Read on to find out more!

Refined carbohydrates are believed to be responsible for causing post-meal increase in blood sugar level in diabetes. Likewise, they also cause a fall in the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level in blood (HDL-C, the good cholesterol).

It is, therefore, surmised that reducing carb content of food may be of benefit in diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Replacing carbs with healthy fats may further improve on the benefits achieved by reducing dietary carbs. 

Healthy fats, by maintaining blood sugar and HDL-C levels within physiological ranges, may provide therapeutic benefit in diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.

Results achieved with ‘high-fat, high-protein and low-carb’ diets like the Aitkens Diet and Mediterranean Diet may provide indirect proof to the usefulness of such a strategy.

Best way to replace carbs with healthy fat?

As suggested previously, the benefits of healthy fat can be multiple – they normalize blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels and therefore, resist the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, some believe that use of too much fats – healthy or otherwise – may be detrimental. Too much fat, they say, can lead to obesity. Notwithstanding such doubts, evidence seems to be strongly in favor of nut consumption not affecting body weight. In fact, nuts are recommended in cases where loss of body weight is sought!

Having said that, when increasing fat content of diet in cases where fears of weight gain persist, nuts may provide the perfect solution.

So, how do you maximize your fat intake without the fear of gaining weight?

One way to keep your body weight down while increasing consumption of healthy fats is the use of nuts. A major reason why nuts fit the bill as far as the ‘low-carbs, high-vegetable fat and high-protein’ dietary strategy is concerned  is the almost perfect nutrient profile of nuts (for the job).  

Furthermore, the consumption of mixed nuts – almonds, macadamias,  pecans, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts and cashews – to replace dietary starch with unsaturated fats has been shown to definitely reduce HbA1c (glycosylated haemoglobin) and blood lipid levels. Researchers also believe that increasing proportion of these healthy fats in your diet (especially when derived from plant sources) may provide other metabolic benefits as well.

These metabolic benefits, it is suspected, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Nuts – when used for such therapeutic purposes – are so effective that they seem to possess 2/3rds of the efficacy recognized as ‘clinically meaningful’ by the FDA for an antihyperglycemic (blood sugar-reducing) drug.

Nuts are rarely, if ever implicated, in causing obesity and packed with healthy, unsaturated fatty acids – polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs and MUFAs). Not only are these fats effective in preventing post-meal rise in blood sugar and improving HDL but also in causing effective reduction in the level of lower density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, the bad cholesterol).

Several studies in the recent past have demonstrated the positive association between consumption of nuts and reduced risk of congestive heart disease – a major cause of death in diabetes.

Although there is difference of opinion whether nuts really do help glucose control in diabetes, some researchers report that nuts replacing carbs – such as in a diabetic diet – may be an effective therapeutic intervention.

Take home message

A handful of mixed nuts may qualify as a hypoglycemic drug!

By replacing refined carbs in your diet with healthy fats (contained in nuts), type-2 diabetes mellitus (and cardiovascular disease) may be effectively prevented or reversed.

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  • Jenkins, D. J., Wong, J. M., Kendall, C. W., Esfahani, A., Ng, V. W., Leong, T. C. et al. (2009). The effect of a plant-based low-carbohydrate ("Eco-Atkins") diet on body weight and blood lipid concentrations in hyperlipidemic subjects. Arch.Intern.Med, 169, 1046-1054.
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  • Photo courtesy of Mike Baird by Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/2854689600/

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