Nearly 26 million Americans are living with diabetes, which means there’s a pretty good chance that includes several of your patients. For that reason and infinite others, it’s important to understand the positive and proven impact almonds can have in controlling the disease.
The nutritional value of almonds – low on the glycemic index and providing a powerful nutrient package including hunger-fighting protein (6 g/oz), filling dietary fiber (4 g/oz), “good” fats[i] (9 g MUFAs/oz) and important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E (7.3 mg/oz), magnesium (77 mg/oz) and potassium (200 mg/oz), combined with their versatility and many forms, makes them a smart snack for those with impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes.
What’s more, a growing body research has revealed that adding almonds to a diabetes-friendly diet may actually help improve certain risk factors while providing great taste and substantial nutrition your patients will actually enjoy eating. No kidding. Our Diabetes and Your Diet handout provides tips on meal planning and smart snacking strategies for those with diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance.
Diabetes and Inflammation
A 2014 randomized, controlled clinical study
showed that adding 1.5 ounces of almonds per day, without other dietary changes, helped reduce C-reactive protein levels by nearly 30% in adults with poorly controlled diabetes.**** Study Limitations: The study was limited by small sample size and reliance on self-reported, incomplete dietary records.
CITATION BELOW: Sweazea KL, Johnston CS, Ricklefs KD, Petersen CN. Almond supplementation in the absence of dietary advice significantly reduces C-reactive protein in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Functional Foods 2014: 252-259.
• A study
published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition demonstrated that consuming a diet where 20% of total calorie intake came from almonds helped improve insulin sensitivity in individuals with pre-diabetes.* Study Limitations: The single fasting insulin sample and sample size are limitations in this study, as well as possible errors in patient self-reporting of dietary intakes and differences in carbohydrate intakes between the two groups. 4
Breakfast and Glucose Levels
According to a study
published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, consuming a breakfast containing almonds, which is a low-glycemic-index food, aids in stabilizing blood glucose levels for the better part of the day.** Study Limitations: Although the test meals were matched for available carbohydrate content, they were not matched on energy value or macronutrient composition. Additional research is needed to assess the long-term effects of including almonds in the breakfast meal on blood glucose concentrations.
Heart Disease and Diabetes
Results from a study
published in Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental suggests that incorporating almonds into the National Cholesterol Education Program
(NCEP) Step II Diet can improve insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes.***
Limitations of this study include the sample size, length of the study, lack of an oral glucose tolerance test, and lack of hemoglobin A1c readings. The sample size for this study is considered small for a feeding study, so the results may not be extrapolated to apply to a larger population. Though the study showed that almond consumption lowered fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, in order to gauge the effect on insulin actions, an oral glucose tolerance test is needed, and none was administered. Lastly, because hemoglobin A1c is a measure of blood glucose readings over a 2-3 month period, it was not assessed in this study, as the study interventions only lasted for 4 weeks at a time.3
* Almond consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in adults with prediabetes. By: Wien M, et al. J Am Coll Nutr. 2010 Jun;29(3):189-97.
**Acute and second-meal effects of almond form in impaired glucose tolerant adults: a randomized crossover trial, published in February 2011 in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.
*** Almond consumption improved glycemic control and lipid profiles in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. By: Sing-Chung Li, Yen-Hua Liu, Jen-Fang Liu, Wen-Hsin Chang, Chaio-Ming Chen, C.-Y. Oliver Chen. Metabolism Clinical and Experimental. 60 (2011) 474-479