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What are the benefits of eating walnuts if I have diabetes?

If you have diabetes and trouble with high blood sugar, you might want to make this one of your mainstay snacks: a handful of walnuts.

Walnuts are already in a heart-healthy league of their own because of their cholesterol-improving powers. And now a small new study suggests that eating walnuts every day may help give blood vessels a much needed tune-up in people with diabetes.

In the study, people with type 2 diabetes were asked to eat about 2 ounces of walnuts every day. After 8 weeks, endothelial function improved significantly in the walnut eaters. Why is this good news? Because endothelial cells -- that thin layer of cells that lines the inside of blood vessels -- may be one of the first places to go bad when people with diabetes start developing vascular disease.

Compared to other nuts, walnuts have higher amounts of alpha-linolenic acid, which may help protect against plaque formation in arteries. Walnuts also are a great source of an amino acid called L-arginine, which helps relax blood vessels and control blood pressure. And surprisingly, the nut eaters in the study didn't suffer any deleterious effects to their weight and waist sizes. Could be all the protein and fiber in walnuts helped the study participants eat less overall.

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