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HEALTH REPORT – December 18, 2002: Eating Nuts Prevents Diabetes - 2002-12-17

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

A new study shows that eating nuts and peanut butter may help prevent one form of the disease diabetes. Adult-onset or Type Two diabetes affects about one-hundred-thirty-five-million people around the world. The disease results when the body cannot produce or use a substance called insulin. Insulin is produced in the organ called the pancreas. Insulin helps turn sugar in foods into energy.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published the findings. Scientists from the Harvard University School of Public Health in Cambridge, Massachusetts completed the research. They studied more than eighty-three-thousand women for sixteen years. The women were thirty-four to fifty-nine years old. None of the women had diabetes, cancer or heart disease when the study began. During the study, more than three-thousand women developed diabetes.

The women answered questions every four years between nineteen-eighty and nineteen-ninety-six. The researchers asked what they ate, including information about nuts and nut products.

Some of the women ate nuts five days a week. The size of each serving weighed about thirty grams. Or, they ate a serving of peanut butter five days each week. Other women in the study did not eat nuts or peanut butter. Those who ate nuts five times a week were more than twenty percent less likely to develop Type Two diabetes than the women who did not eat nuts.

Although the study involved only women, the researchers believe eating nuts would also be good for men. The scientists say more research is needed to confirm the findings. But the study suggests that the fats in nuts may improve the way the body makes and uses insulin.

Nuts contain magnesium. This element helps balance insulin and levels of sugar in the blood. The fats in nuts also may improve the body’s ability to process sugar in the blood. People who suffer from diabetes have too much sugar in their blood and urine, the body’s liquid waste.

Other research has shown that nuts are good for the health in other ways. For example, nuts contain good fats and other nutrients that help reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood and may prevent heart disease.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Jerilyn Watson.