Because nuts are an energy dense food with a high fat content, there is a widespread perception that eating nuts…
What effect do nuts have on insulin resistance?
Nuts help with insulin resistance by reducing the rise in blood glucose, reducing inflammation and helping to maintain a healthy weight.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas in response to eating carbohydrate foods. Once carbohydrate rich foods are digested and absorbed into the blood stream as glucose – the simplest carbohydrate – insulin is responsible for moving the glucose into the cells where the energy factories make energy for the body.
Insulin resistance is where the body’s cells resist the action of insulin and the pancreas needs to produce even greater levels of insulin to see that same result. Insulin has a sneaky side effect – it can also slow the breakdown of body fat so belly fat accumulates. This can worsen insulin resistance and the cycle starts again. Inflammation plays a role in insulin resistance too.
If left untreated, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome and obesity.
Nuts can help insulin resistance in several ways:
- Reduce the rise in blood glucose – if blood glucose levels remain in the normal range, the pancreas doesn’t need to produce abnormal levels of insulin. Nuts help slow the digestion of carbohydrate rich foods, lowering the rise in blood glucose following a meal 
- Reduce inflammation – nuts contain phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties 
- Reduce weight gain and help with weight management  – less belly fat means insulin works more effectively.
- Kendall, C.W., et al., The glycemic effect of nut-enriched meals in healthy and diabetic subjects. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis, 2011. 21 Suppl 1: p. S34-9.
- Casas-Agustench, P., M. Bullo, and J. Salas-Salvado, Nuts, inflammation and insulin resistance. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 2010. 19(1): p. 124-30.
- Li, H., et al., Nut consumption and risk of metabolic syndrome and overweight/obesity: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized trials. Nutr Metab (Lond), 2018. 15: p. 46.