Numerous studies show that nuts reduce the risk for diabetes: a benefit likely related to their fatty acids' ability to enhance cell membrane structure and function. Degradation in cell membrane function promotes development of virtually every disease and promotes chronic inflammation. The wrong types of fats in our diets precipitate an abnormal cell membrane structure, leading to impaired action of insulin.
Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes is associated with an excess of saturated fats and trans-fatty acids in the diet and a relative insufficiency of monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. Margarine, supermarket brands of peanut butter and the vast majority of pre-packaged baked goods, including cakes, pies and cookies as well as any other foods containing partially hydrogenated oils, are high in trans-fatty acids, which are especially harmful to cell membrane function.
In contrast, monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids improve the efficiency of insulin. For example, among the more than 86,000 women followed over 16 years in the Nurses' Health Study, those who consumed an ounce of nuts at least five times a week cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 27 percent, compared with those who rarely or never consumed nuts.
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