Diet & Nutrition
Cashew Nuts Can Reduce Cholesterol In Indians With Type 2 Diabetes: Study
According to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition by Dr V Mohan and his colleagues at Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF), Chennai shows that regular consumption of cashew nut may actually be beneficial for one's health including people with type 2 diabetes. A clinical trial showed that there was a significant decrease in the systolic blood pressure and 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).
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"We had organised a twelve weeks intervention trial where we gave 30gms of raw cashew nuts daily to the experimental group. 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." Says Dr Mohan.
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.
Sudha Vasudevan, Head of Foods and Nutrition Research at MDRF says, "The beneficial effects seen may be due to the increased intake of MUFA from cashew nuts replacing the carbohydrate calories in the diet. Indians diets are traditionally deficient in MUFA which is a good type of fat and cashew nut supplementation can help to improve the MUFA content of the Indian diet."
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Dr V Mohan further adds "Although about 20 per cent of the fat in cashew nut is of the saturated variety and it is predominantly stearic acid. This is relatively neutral on blood lipids suggesting that cashews could have beneficial effects that are similar to those of other nuts".
"This news should be music to the ears of cashew nut lovers" says Dr RM Anjana, Director Madras Diabetes Research Foundation and one of the key investigators of the study.
She adds on "However, 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."
The main sponsors for this study were the Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI), supported by the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Government of India.