After a holiday in Thailand, Ravi came back to India wanting peanuts in all his food. He found it amazing how the Thai people made even the most boring salads delicious thanks to a powder or paste made of peanuts.
Ravi is a huge fan of peanuts. Even as a child, he refused poha unless it had a generous amount of his favourite ingredient. However, today, Ravi is pre-diabetic, and his father-in-law has diabetes. As a result, his wife Seema worries about whether peanuts are harmful to people who have diabetes or beneficial to them or whether they don’t make any difference at all.
Here’s what peanut lovers – like Ravi – and their caregivers – like Seema – need to know
What Peanuts do to the body and why they are beneficial
Glycemic index: Peanuts have a low GI or glycemic index and are a good snack for people with diabetes. But what exactly is GI? Well, glycemic index refers to the food in question’s ability to impact your blood sugar. Foods get a number between 1 and 100 depending on how the consumer’s blood sugar is affected after consuming the given food or foodstuff.
Ideal foods for diabetes always come with a low glycemic index of 13 to 14. Therefore, a diabetic person will not experience a spike in blood sugar after consuming them.
Magnesium magic: Experts have been theorizing about the role of magnesium in regulating blood sugar, and peanuts – being rich in magnesium – have been noted to mute or lessen a spike in blood sugar levels when consumed with other foods that are high on the GI index that we explained in the point above. In other words, they sort of balance out the negative impact of harmful foods in your diet or on a cheat day.
Healthier heart: Cardiovascular disorders are common among people who have diabetes. Research states that about 65% of people who have diabetes are likely to have a heart attack or a stroke and that if you have diabetes, you’re about twice as likely to have a stroke or a heart attack. Nuts – including peanuts (which technically are not nuts) – to your diet could significantly lower one’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
Lower consumption: Ever eaten peanuts with cocktails only to realize you have no room for dinner?
Peanuts have the amazing ability to make you feel full. This means reduced cravings and, in general, lower food consumption. Healthy body weight is essential to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. With lower food consumption (that does not make you miserable because you will feel satiated and full), you could keep your diabetes in check.
Nip it in the bud: If you do not have diabetes, peanuts could help you minimize your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Unsaturated fat and other nutrients (such as magnesium that we referred to earlier) improve your body’s ability to better manage insulin levels.
How to consume peanuts
Peanuts can be consumed in their natural nut form or as peanut butter.
Whatever form of peanuts you choose to consume, remember that additives that “improve the taste” could be harmful to people with diabetes.
Some examples of when peanuts are likely to do more harm than good for diabetics include:
- Salted peanuts
- Masala peanuts
- Peanut namkeen with fried potato shavings etc
- Sugary (or salted, or buttery or oily) peanut butter
- Too large a helping of peanuts
Disappointed? Don’t be – roasted peanuts can be very delicious.
You can also add peanuts to a salad or a veggie snack to give it some bite and make it a little more exciting on the palate. If it will get some healthy and nutritious food down your throat, it’s done you some good already.
Consuming peanut butter first thing in the morning is a good way to regulate insulin levels throughout the day. Consuming peanut butter at night is said to help with metabolism even while you sleep.
Never go by what you see on the front of a packet of peanuts. Read the nutritional information on the back of the packaging. Alternatively, play it safe by buying natural, raw peanuts and roasting them in your microwave/oven or on a tavaa (without oil). Raw peanuts are a great way to ensure zero additives.
Nutritional Value in Peanuts
You must have seen many people eating peanuts often, and they like the taste a lot. Peanut is one of the best nuts, with the highest percentage of protein. Apart from plant-based protein, peanuts also have fibre, minerals, and several vitamins. The nutritional values in peanuts include macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, fibre, sugars), fats (monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats), minerals (potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, sodium, iron, zinc), vitamins (vitamin B-3 (niacin), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), vitamin B-1 (thiamine), vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), folate (vitamin B-9).
Precautions Before Eating Peanuts
Peanuts are a very tasty nut that people mostly consume regularly. However, before consuming peanuts, you must be sure that you are not allergic to them. Many people are allergic to peanuts, which you have to consider. If you are pregnant or a new mother who breastfeeds the little one, you can add peanuts to your diet. However, it is always advisable to consult a doctor before consuming peanuts.
Risks and considerations associated with eating peanuts
Allergies – Some people have peanut allergies and could even develop them over time, so before you reach for a bowl of nuts, test your body’s acceptance of them with only a few morsels.
Omega 6 – In our section above, describing situations in which peanuts are likely to do more harm than good, we talked about overconsumption. That’s because omega-six fatty acids could have some relationship with a higher rate of inflammation, which is linked to obesity and diabetes. Watch your portion size. A handful should be sufficient for a day.
Calories – Peanuts are high in calories. A handful of peanuts or a quarter cup of peanuts could have as many as 100 calories. When people tell you that peanuts are healthy, then mean ‘healthier than a bag of potato chips or a burger. Use it to replace such items, but consider your calorie intake while zeroing in on portion size.
If you are not a fan of peanuts or are allergic, you could consider other tree nuts, such as walnuts (but not cashew nuts). Seeds like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds might also be beneficial.
Always consult your doctor before adding anything to your diet and practice moderation in consumption. When consumed in moderation and in the right form, peanuts are an affordable healthy snack for people with diabetes.
Can diabetics eat peanuts?
Peanuts have a GI of 14 and a GL of 1, making them one of the lowest-impact GI foods. Peanuts can be a suitable snack for persons with diabetes because they have such a low impact on blood sugar levels.
How many peanuts can a diabetic consume in one day?
Every day, the American Diabetes Association recommends that women consume 25 grams of peanuts and men eat 38 grams. The risk of type 2 diabetes was reduced by 20–30 per cent in a recent study conducted by the ADA, according to a recent survey.