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SRD E-newsletter: Helping your Shoppers Stay on Track with Healthy Eating for Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. This year, educating your shoppers – even if most of it is virtually – about the role of healthy eating for diabetes is more important than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


As you’re likely aware, November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. This year, educating your shoppers – even if most of it is virtually – about the role of healthy eating for diabetes is more important than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthy eating, including snacking, is very important for helping keep bodies strong and well-nourished.

Increased COVID-19 risk: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes have increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.  As you’re aware, being obese (often a co-morbidity with type 2 diabetes) elevates the risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19.  Visit the CDC Coronavirus website often for the latest news.  With this new factor in mind, providing education and support for people with diabetes, as well as those at risk, takes on increased importance. As a supermarket dietitian, you’re in a unique place to help people make food choices at their point of purchase.

Weight management: During the pandemic, there is anecdotal evidence about the “quarantine-15,” a term to describe weight gained during the lockdown period.  For those who are overweight, losing just 5% of body weight can improve blood sugars and other diabetes outcomes.  Although this risk of weight gain isn’t limited to those with diabetes or pre-diabetes, keeping a healthy weight takes on greater importance. The same dietary guidance applies now as always– macronutrient percentage recommendations vary and whether it be a Mediterranean, low-carb, vegetarian diet or another choice, including lots of non-starchy vegetables, minimizing added sugars and refined grains and choosing whole, minimally processed foods – such as almonds – are the key tenets to healthy eating with diabetes. And when it comes to snacking, including those that are high in fiber and protein to provide sustained energy can help people feel satisfied and help steady blood sugar.  With filling snacks, the chance of boredom eating is less likely too, which in turn, can help with weight maintenance.

Staying motivated: You shoppers are at home more now and doing a lot of their own cooking. People with diabetes, given their increased risk, may have taken additional steps to protect themselves by avoiding unnecessary public outings, including shopping as frequently as they used to or spending the time they usually would in stores.  Education about stocking a healthy pantry by choosing foods with a longer shelf is something consumers are more interested in now than ever before. Sharing easy-to-make recipes with staple ingredients reimagined is a great way to provide a variety of options so meals and snacks don’t become repetitive. 

RECIPE: Spicy Sriracha Almonds

Your shoppers will love these spicy sriracha almonds – and they’re a cinch to make.  For more delicious recipes, visit our Recipe Center. Spicy sriracha almonds Sample Post:  If you love sriracha, you’ll love these tasty almonds. Sriracha rocketed from unknown Thai condiment to one of the most loved flavors! The base of this deliciousness is made from red jalapeño peppers, yet it is only moderately spicy compared to other pepper sauces.

Talking Points:  Smart Snacking for People Living with Diabetes

Use these talking points for virtual store events (including audio recordings and check-out videos) or in your media appearances as a starter for sharing smart snacking for people with diabetes:

  • November 14th is World Diabetes Day, which is a time to raise awareness of the disease that affects so many of us – nearly 100 million Americans.
  • We’ve learned a lot about diabetes to make food shopping more manageable.  A diabetes-friendly diet can offer tons of flavorful foods with simple, tasty ingredients.  Eating to manage diabetes needn’t be boring.
  • Choose healthy foods that help control your blood sugar levels – meaning a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts like almonds, and lean cuts of protein.  Keep sugary desserts to a sensible minimum so they stay special treats.
  • Snacking is not off the table but choose smart snacks that are high in fiber and protein to provide long-lasting energy to help tide you over between meals.  Focus on snacks like low-fat fruit yogurt with sliced almonds, spicy beef jerky, baby carrots with red pepper hummus or apple slices spread with almond butter, to just name a few! 
  • Finally, be mindful of your snacking and how many calories you are eating.  We’re all in this tough time together and being at home so much makes it’s easy to graze all day. Plan ahead and make the snacks you eat count

COPY THAT: Newsletter/Circular Copy

Include this tip in your store blog, newsletter or circular:

November 14th is World Diabetes Day, which is a time to raise awareness of the disease that affects so many of us – nearly 100 million Americans.  When you have diabetes, following a healthy diet is always on your mind and smart snacking can help provide the right fuel to keep blood sugar levels steady.  Choose snacks that offer sustained energy -  foods that are high in fiber and protein for a slow release of energy to help you feel satisfied over a longer period of time and avoid sugar peaks and crashes.  A healthy handful of almonds offers 6 grams of plant protein, 4 grams of filling fiber, 20% of the Daily Value for magnesium so much more, for one of the most stellar satiating snacks around!

RESEARCH UPDATE: Mental Stress: Can Your Snack Make a Difference?

Mental stress is among the psychosocial factors thought to contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.  Heart rate variability (HRV), a measure of the fluctuation in time intervals between consecutive heartbeats, is an important indicator of the cardiovascular system’s response to stress and it is thought that lifestyle factors including physical activity and diet might impact HRV. Higher HRV represents greater adaptability of the heart in response to environmental and psychological challenges, while low HRV is linked to cardiovascular disease and sudden cardiac death.  As part of a recent clinical trial, researchers at King’s College London measured HRV in participants undergoing a laboratory mental stress challenge and saw improvement in some measures of HRV in participants who had been replacing typical snacks with almonds over a six-week period.  The study1 was funded by the Almond Board of California.

This new research finding was a secondary outcome measure of the ATTIS study, a 6-week randomized control, parallel-arm trial, where participants with above average cardiovascular disease risk consumed a daily snack of almonds or a calorie-matched control snack providing 20% of each participants’ estimated daily energy needs. 

Participants in this study were British men and women, aged 30 to 70 years. Researchers measured their real-time heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) at rest (lying down for 5-minute periods) and during a Stroop test (in which participants were asked to read colored words i.e. say “red” in a green font) to simulate a short period of mental stress. During acute mental stress, participants in the almond group showed greater cardiac resilience. This was demonstrated by better heart rate regulation compared to the control group, indicated by statistically significant differences in high frequency power, which specifically evaluates beat-to-beat intervals (a measure of HRV).  

“This study shows that the simple dietary strategy of swapping almonds for typical snacks may bolster resilience to the adverse cardiovascular effects of mental stress by improving regulation of heart rate.  We found that the stress-induced reduction in heart rate variability was lessened in the almond group compared to control following the dietary intervention, which indicates a cardiovascular health benefit.  It is useful to think of having a higher HRV as the heart being able to switch gears faster in response to demands on the body, which means more cardiac resilience and flexibility during periods of stress.  In the long term, this is beneficial for cardiovascular health,” said Dr. Wendy Hall, PhD, co-principal investigator and Reader in Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London.   The researchers acknowledge that the mechanisms underlying this effect are still unknown and long-term studies are needed to understand this as well as the effects of almonds on HRV in at-risk populations.

“These results support our growing knowledge about almonds and heart health. And, they’re particularly timely given the heightened levels of stress many of us are experiencing right now, alongside increased snacking, from working at home,” said Dr. Sarah Berry, PhD, co-principal investigator.

Years of heart health research – including a systematic review and meta-analysis2 – support the inclusion of almonds in heart healthy eating plans.* Both ATTIS studies included measures that had never before been evaluated in clinical research trials investigating the impact of almonds. Although additional studies are needed to confirm these findings, the improvements in certain measures of HRV suggest that almonds may provide unexpected heart health benefits.  Almonds provide 6 grams of plant protein, 4 grams of filling fiber and 15 essential nutrients - including 20% of the Daily Value for magnesium and 50% of daily needs for vitamin E - in every healthy handful. Click here to view the full study.

Resources to the Rescue

We have what you need to help your shoppers learn more about tips for diabetes-friendly food choices with our Diabetes and Your Diet handout and our Nutrition By Addition: Build a Better Snack, that focuses on tasty and nutrition-boosted pairings with almonds for the ultimate in smart snacking.

Diabetes and your diet

Nutrition by Addition: build a better snack


Did you miss the Diet and Skin Health webinar we hosted earlier this summer? You’re in luck – you can watch the recording! Integrative dermatologist and researcher Dr. Raja Sivamani, University of California, Davis, takes a deep dive into the connection between diet and skin health, explores the latest understanding of the gut-skin axis, and shares recent research examining the role of almond consumption on wrinkles. Plus, you can earn 1 hour CPE by watching!

1 Vita Dikariyanto, Leanne Smith, Philip J Chowienczyk, Sarah E  Berry, Wendy L Hall. Snacking on whole almonds for six weeks increases heart rate variability during mental stress in healthy adults: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrients 2020, 12(6), 1828;

2 Musa-Veloso K, Paulionis L, Poon T, Lee HL. The effects of almond consumption on fasting blood lipid

levels: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.  Journal of Nutritional Science 2016; 5(e34):1-15. 

*Good news about almonds and heart health. Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat.