Cashews are one of the most nutritious fruits. They contain high amounts of protein, vitamins A, B6, C and E along with minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Cashews have been used for centuries in traditional Asian medicine to treat various ailments including diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2DM), asthma, allergies and rheumatism.
The main active ingredient in cashews is called avenanthramides. These compounds have been shown to improve blood sugar control, reduce cholesterol levels and lower triglyceride levels.
Avenanthramides are found mainly in the skin of the cashew nut. Other ingredients include flavonoids, phenolic acids and carotenoid pigments. Some studies suggest that avenanthramides may also protect against cancer through anti-inflammatory properties.
Cases of T2DM have increased dramatically in developed countries. The prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome is increasing rapidly. Studies show that the consumption of foods rich in fat increases risk for developing T2DM.
Studies show that consuming fatty fish like salmon, tuna or mackerel reduces the risk for developing T2DM and improves insulin sensitivity. However, these types of fish are not commonly available in many parts of the world where people live.
The main dietary sources of fat in most developing countries are nuts, seeds and oils. These types of foods are not widely available and their consumption is very expensive.
Cashew nuts have high levels of fat (up to 75%) and are relatively cheap and readily available in most parts of the world. They also contain large amounts of minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus along with vitamin C and B-group vitamins.
Eating cashew nuts can help improve insulin resistance. They can also help improve the function of the pancreas and reduce the risk for developing T2DM.
Cashew nuts contain flavonoids and bioactive compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties.
Cashew nuts are a good source of magnesium, a mineral that is involved in energy production. Magnesium deficiency can lead to insulin resistance and is often present in people with T2DM.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that prevents free radical damage to sensitive tissues and organs in the body. It also helps to reduce oxidative stress, a condition which interferes with the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.
Diabetes is a serious medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It has serious implications on health and can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and stroke.
The pancreas is a major organ involved in the production of insulin, a hormone that plays a vital role in regulating blood sugar levels. In people with T2DM the insulin producing cells in the pancreas are damaged. This condition is called “Type 2 Diabetes” to distinguish it from “Type 1 Diabetes”, a condition where the pancreas does not produce any insulin at all.
Diabetes is primarily a disease of excess weight and obesity. It has been estimated that obesity may account for as much as 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide.
Research suggests that overweight people who are physically inactive are at increased risk of developing T2DM. Even modest weight loss can significantly reduce this risk.
There is strong evidence to suggest that regular exercise can help prevent or delay the onset of T2DM.
Many studies have shown that people who are physically active have a reduced risk of developing T2DM.
Aerobic exercise can improve the body’s response to insulin. It also improves blood sugar control and can reduce the risk for developing cardiovascular diseases which are common in people with T2DM.
Lowering salt intake reduces the fluid retention that is usually associated with excessive consumption of sodium ions. This can reduce blood pressure and the risk for stroke.
Dietary fibre is not digested and absorbed by the body. It stays in the gut and slowly passes through the system, making people feel full, so they eat less. Soluble dietary fibre can also slow down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.
There is evidence to suggest that drinking at least six to eight glasses of water per day helps improve insulin sensitivity and reduces blood sugar levels.
Quitting smoking has many benefits for people with T2DM. It reduces the risk for heart attack, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk for stroke. Quitting also reduces the risk of developing potentially fatal health problems such as blood vessel damage in the kidneys (internally) and the eye (retinopathy).
The most important meal of the day is breakfast. Skipping it leads to poor concentration, increased hunger and increased food intake later in the day.
It is important to have regular, smaller meals rather than 3 large meals. This helps to maintain even blood sugar levels and reduces hunger pangs.
Having a high-fibre snack before going out to dinner helps control hunger pangs and improves blood sugar control.
A low-GI diet has several benefits in people with T2DM. It improves blood sugar control, reduces insulin resistance and reduces the risk of weight gain.
Many popular diet plans are not beneficial in the long term. Most of them simply involve calorie restriction which can lead to hunger, food cravings and binge eating.
Recent studies have shown that popular low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets such as the Atkins diet are not beneficial in the long term since they increase the risk for coronary artery disease (heart disease).
A diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help reduce the risk for coronary artery disease (heart disease) which is common in people with T2DM.
People with T2DM are at increased risk of developing potentially fatal health problems in the eyes such as retinopathy and blindness.
The most common cause of blindness in people over the age of 50 is diabetic eye disease.
Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels can help prevent the onset and progression of diabetic eye disease.
Regular eye exams by an ophthalmologist are essential in the early identification and management of retinopathy.
Early detection of potentially blinding conditions such as diabetic retinopathy is vital.
The traditional Chinese medicine remedy ginseng has been used for many years in the treatment of diabetes.
A number of studies have shown that American ginseng can improve the body’s responsiveness to insulin.
Some animal studies have shown that the herb red yeast rice can help control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol.
There is conflicting evidence on the use of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and selenium in people with T2DM.
A number of studies have shown that glimepiride, a second-generation sulfonylurea, lowers blood sugar levels in people with T2DM.
There is conflicting evidence on the use of the alpha-glucosidase inhibitor acarbose in people with T2DM.
The Chinese herb Gymnema has been studied extensively in animals and humans with diabetes. It appears to be quite effective in improving glucose control, but side effects are common.
Recent studies have shown that incretin mimetics such as exenatide and liraglutide can help control blood sugar levels in people with T2DM.
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Washed cashew apple fiber (Anacardium occidentale L.) as fat replacer in chicken patties by JM Guedes-Oliveira, RL Salgado… – LWT-Food Science and …, 2016 – Elsevier
Ethanolic extract of cashew apple inhibits lipid metabolism and ameliorates obesity in atherogenic diet-induced obese rats by T Jhansyrani, D Sujatha, K Bharathi… – Asian Pacific Journal of …, 2019 – apjtb.org
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