Pistachios and Diabetes

What You Need to Know: A rndomized clinical trial demonstrates that a pistachio-rich det can significantly reduce fasting glucose (sugar), insulin, and insulin resistance in pre-diabetic individuals.

Summary Points

  • Two ounces of pistacio nuts per day for 4 months in prediabetic individuals significantly reduced fasting blood glucose and insulin resistance compared to a control group.
  • No significant differences were found in lipid profiles between the pistachio-rich diet and control groups.

Who was studied? The study included 54 Spanish adults with prediabetes.

How was the study done? Participants were divided into two groups. Both groups followed a normal healthy diet for 2 weeks. Then, for the next 4 months, one group followed a diet that included 2 ounces of pistachio nuts per day, and the other group followed a similar diet without pistachio nuts. All participants then ate a normal diet for another 2 weeks. Finally, for another 4-month period, the two groups crossed over, eating the opposite diet from the one they had followed during the first 4-month period. Researchers collected health information and laboratory test results at 1) the start of the study, 2) after the first 2 weeks of the normal diet, and then 3) every month throughout the study.

What did the researchers find? Glucose and insulin levels and other signs of insulin resistance were lower after participants followed the diet with pistachio nuts than after they followed the diet without nuts. Several other measures linked to diabetes and heart disease risk also improved after the pistachio nut diet. In addition, participants had higher levels of glucagona hormone produced by the alpha cells in the pancreas. It raises blood glucose. An injectable form of glucagon, available by prescription, may be used to treat severe hypoglycemia.

What were the limitations of the study? This study focused on people with prediabetes, so its results may not apply to healthy people or to those individuals with diabetes.

What are the implications of the study? Eating a handful of pistachio nuts per day as part of a healthy diet may help people with prediabetes improve their condition and avoid diabetes and other diseases. Because nuts are high in calories, people who are concerned about weight gain should adjust other parts of their diet so they can add nuts without boosting their total daily calories.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

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Reference: Diabetes Care 2014;37:3098-3105.

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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