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Study: Almonds may help combat diabetes

November 16, 2011
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A recent study has shown promising results for those battling diabetes.

The data joins a growing list of research showing that a healthy diet, which includes almonds every day, could help improve certain risk factors for diabetes and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

The newest research, published in Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental (Chen et al), demonstrated that incorporating almonds into a diet designed using the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) step II dietary guidelines - which recommend less than 7% daily calories from saturated fat and less than 200 mg cholesterol daily - improved insulin sensitivity and lipid profiles in Chinese patients with type 2 diabetes.

“This new research... is encouraging,” says Jenny Heap, MS, RD, health professional marketing manager, Almond Board of California. “While further research is needed to confirm this relationship, it is especially helpful to understand that almond consumption might be beneficial in the early, or pre-diabetes, stage.”

Participants in the study were recruited from the Endocrine Clinic of the Taipei Medical University Hospital, Taiwan. In this randomized crossover trial, 20 patients were assigned to either follow the control or almond diet for four weeks with a two week run-in and wash-out period.

The almond diet was prepared by incorporating roasted, unsalted whole almonds into entrees, desserts or snacks to replace 20% of the calories from the NCEP step II diet. On average, participants consumed 56 grams (2 ounces) of almonds per day.

The almond diet significantly decreased fasting insulin levels and fasting glucose levels, as well as total cholesterol (TC) levels, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol levels and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) “good” cholesterol to TC ratio (HDL:TC) compared to the control diet.3

Although the study was limited by its small sample size, short length, lack of an oral glucose tolerance test, and lack of hemoglobin A1c readings, it does support the findings of a similar study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in June 2010.

That study suggested that consuming an almond-enriched diet may help those with prediabetes improve insulin sensitivity and maintain healthy levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol.

For more information on almonds and diabetes, almond recipes, or for ideas on how to incorporate almonds into a healthy diet, visit www.almondboard.com/Consumer/HealthandNutrition/Pages/Diabetes.aspx.

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