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Are Pistachios Good For People With Diabetes?

Diet is a major factor in managing diabetes. A diet rich in monounsaturated fats and low in saturated fats are considered the best for diabetics as they help reduce inflammation and cholesterol levels and thus, control glucose levels to a larger extent.

Consumption of nuts like pistachios can decrease the risk of diabetes by 27 per cent as they are rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats, the types of fats that are beneficial for health in several ways. Also, nuts are an important part of a Mediterranean diet, a diet recommended by experts for diabetics.

Pistachios, being a nut packed with unsaturated fats and other phenolic compounds such as fibre, magnesium, selenium and vitamins, may help in the management of diabetes. They are ranked in the list of the first 50 food items with potent antioxidant behaviours which may help improve insulin insensitivity, protect pancreatic cells from oxidative damage, improve cholesterol levels and manage hyperglycemia. [1]

This article will talk about the association between pistachios and diabetes. Take a look.

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Pistachios And Diabetes

Here are a few reasons why pistachios can be included in the diabetes diet.

1. Low in calories

A study has shown that pistachios are low in calories and fats compared to other nuts and provide a feeling of satiety upon consumption. Therefore, they may help promote the intake of only fewer calories a day. Consider eating in-shell pistachios rather than shell-off ones. [2]

2. Low in glycemic index

Foods low in the glycemic index minimise the sudden spike of the glucose levels, help keep a person full for longer and even the body's sugar levels upon consumption. Pistachios are low in glycemic index, meaning, they may prevent the glucose spike post meals and keep diabetes in control. [3]

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3. High in unsaturated fatty acids

As aforementioned, pistachios are high in mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to other nuts. These dietary fats are regarded as healthy fats as they help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, both complications of diabetes.

4. High in antioxidants

According to a study, pistachios are the only nuts that are naturally packed with antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and gamma-tocopherol along with flavonoids and selenium. They may help protect the beta cells of the pancreas which are responsible for insulin production and prevent other harmful effects of free radicals. [4]

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5. Reduce inflammation

Some studies suggest that diabetes is actually caused due to inflammation and if the condition is present already, it may also lead to inflammation due to insulin resistance. Pistachios have anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of polyphenols such as gallic acid, catechin and luteolin in both raw-shelled and roasted-salted pistachios. They can prevent diabetes as well as help manage the condition. [5]

6. High in fibre

Pistachios are richer in fibre compared to other nuts, says a study. The high fibre content along with healthy fats and antioxidants help lower the risk of diabetes by slowing the absorption of glucose and balancing the sugar levels in the body. [3]

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7. Good for heart

As per a study, people with diabetes are at 2-4 times increased risk of heart diseases compared to people without diabetes. Pistachios can help lower the serum cholesterol levels by minimising the absorption of cholesterol, thus improving cholesterol metabolism, cell functioning and blood pressure, all factors necessary for the prevention of heart diseases. [6]

8. High in magnesium and arginine

The high content of magnesium and arginine in pistachios help improve the blood flow in the arteries of the heart. Arginine also helps burn glucose by around 40 per cent and also regulate appetite. People with diabetes are often found with magnesium deficiency. Therefore, the consumption of pistachios may help provide the daily recommended amount of the nutrient.

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Daily Intake Of Pistachios And Ways They Can Be Consumed

The recommended daily intake of pistachios is 28 g or around 49 kernels or inner seeds of pistachios. This will help provide around 160 kcal of energy.

Pistachios alone had a lesser effect on postprandial glycemia or say, glucose levels after meals. However, adding them to meals such as rice, pasta and potato that contains high carbs with a high glycemic index, can help reduce glucose spike after the meal. [7] Also, the consumption of pistachios alone has the strongest effect on reducing blood pressure.

The best ways to consume pistachios are by adding them to dishes such as marinades, gravies, pasta, salsa or meat recipes. They make for the best topping for yoghurt and fruit salad. Most of the micronutrient and active compound in this dried fruit remains intact even after cooking. However, they are mainly preferred stir-fried.

To Conclude

Pistachios have been consumed since 6000 BC and are largely used in culinary of various cultures due to their nutrient-dense profile. They are considered a superfood for people with diabetes as they benefit them by keeping their glucose levels in control, compared to other nuts. Add pistachios to the daily diet to get the maximum of their benefits.

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Common FAQs

1. Are pistachios good for type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is characterised by the body's inability to use insulin to metabolise glucose. Pistachios anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties help prevent insulin resistance and promote proper functioning of the cells so that insulin can be properly used for the metabolism of glucose.

2. Which nuts are best for diabetics?

Though most of the nuts are preferred for diabetics, pistachios ranked among the top list due to their low calories, low glycemic index, high fibre and unique antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin.

3. What happens when you eat too many pistachios?

Pistachios are good for health but they are dose-dependent. Too much consumption of pistachios can cause stomach problems such as bloating and diarrhoea, weight gain and high blood pressure.