Eating Pistachios Could Help Balance Blood Sugar and Curb Diabetes


20090331-pistachios When it comes to a healthy snack, nuts are one of our favorite options. Now you have even more of a reason to love nuts…especially pistachios! A recent study presented at the European Congress on Obesity found that eating pistachios significantly decreased fasting glucose levels in people with pre-diabetes.

In the United States alone, roughly 30 million children and adults have diabetes, nearly 95% of whom have type two diabetes. But that doesn’t even include the estimated 79 million people with pre-diabetes, the condition where blood glucose levels are elevated, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.

The researchers from Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain created a small study with 49 subjects overweight or obese individuals for a four-month randomized clinical trial. Subjects were given a control diet that included olive oil, or isocaloric pistachio diet that included 57 grams of pistachios daily or slightly less than a half cup. While there were no significant changes in BMI between groups, the subjects on the pistachio diet most notably had significant decreases in fasting blood glucose levels. Pistachio diet subjects were also found to have significant decreases in additional metabolic risk markers including “fibrinogen, glucagon-like peptide-a, oxidized LDL and platelet factor-4”.

So is this the answer to our diabetes epidemic? No, but this small study does yield interesting results. Despite the fact that the study was indeed funded by the Western Pistachios Association and Paramount Farms, the research shows that regular consumption of pistachios could provide a somewhat protective role against type two diabetes. But pistachios alone won’t cut it. The American Diabetes Association research shows that you can significantly lower your risk of type two diabetes by over 50% by losing roughly seven percent of your body weight and exercising for thirty minutes a day, five days a week.

By all means, trade one of your weekly snacks for pistachios but we also encourage you to lace up those sneakers and make over your fridge while you’re at it!

Carlene Thomas RD,LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in weight loss and wellness. She provides nutrition guidance to the public in a variety of ways including corporate wellness, private clients and contributes an expert nutrition voice to a variety of media.

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One response to “Eating Pistachios Could Help Balance Blood Sugar and Curb Diabetes”

  1. Bob Greene says:

    Nice summary of the study, but scant information on details important to many readers who may wish to try pistachios.

    For example, what form of pistachio nut was used? Salted and roasted, or raw?

    That matters, because the salted and roasted nut has only 40 percent of the nutritional value of the raw nut.

    In addition, concerns about aflatoxins in raw nuts restrain many who wish to obtain the full nutritional benefit.

    Can you provide information on
    (1) whether salted and roasted or raw pistachio nuts were used, and
    (2) where the research team obtained its pistachio nuts.