November is Diabetes Awareness month, which happens to be the 7th leading cause of death in this country costing us, as a nation, $245 billion dollars annually. According to figures released this month by the American Diabetes Association, more than 29 million Americans are living with diabetes. What may be even more alarming is that about 86 million Americans age 20 and older have a condition known as pre-diabetes, which is up from 79 million in 2010. People with pre-diabetes have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes, and without lifestyle changes to improve their health, 15%-30% of people with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.The good news is that changing certain behaviors can help.
According to diabetes expert David Katz, MD, MPH “Abundant scientific evidence shows that four simple things—not smoking, eating well, being active, and maintaining a healthy weight—play an enormous role in controlling diabetes.”
Consuming nutritious and flavorful foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and the right types of fats, such as those found in walnuts, are key ingredients that can help. “People look at fat as a four letter word that results in poor health and weight gain,” states Dr. Katz. He believes, “All dietary fat is not created equal and certain fats are essential to good health.” Walnuts happen to be the only nut with a significant source of alpha-linolenic acid, a “good” fat, with 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acid in every ounce.
Research led by Dr. Katz at the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center showed that consumption of a diet enriched with two ounces of walnuts per day for eight weeks significantly improved endothelial function in 24 adult participants with type-2 diabetes. The researchers compared the effects of typical diets and walnut-enriched diets on endothelial function—a measure of how well blood vessels are able to dilate and increase flow, and a powerful predictor of overall cardiovascular risk. The research suggested that the nutritional properties found in walnuts could serve as a pivotal tool in the management of diabetes.
With Thanksgiving and American Diabetes Month falling in November, what better way to celebrate both than by serving up a delicious, nutritious menu. Capture the traditional flavors of the holiday without sacrificing your health by choosing from our collection of Thanksgiving walnut side dishes, including A+ Green Bean Casserole and Smart Harvest Stuffing. As a finale to your holiday meal, treat your guests to Cranberry Pear Tartlets—a delicious and sweet ending that will be enjoyed while being nutritionally sound.
 Ma Y, Njike VY, Millet J, Dutt S, Doughty K, Treu JA, Katz D (2010). Effects of walnut consumption on endothelial function in type 2 diabetic subjects: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Diabetes Care. 33(2):227-32.