Almonds lower blood sugar in diabetics

May 21, 2012

Jacob Schor, ND



Eating almonds with breakfast lowers blood sugar in people with type-2 diabetes.



Almonds may be the perfect food for people with diabetes. In people with early diabetes eating almonds lowers blood sugar and protects against the chronic diseases associated with diabetes. 


Eating nuts including almonds improves blood lipid profiles, decreaseing total cholesterol, in particular decreasing LDL, the bad cholesterol, and increasing HDL, the good cholesterol. Despite the fact that nuts are caloric dense foods, people who snack on nuts lose weight. Nuts create such a feeling of satiety that people reduce total calorie intake.


Nuts are high in unsaturated fats and fiber and low in carbohydrate.  Emerging evidence suggests that they might decrease the risk of getting type-2 diabetes.  Eating nuts along with simple carbohydrates reduces the glycemic impact of the carbohydrates, reducing the spike in blood sugar and lowering the total amount of insulin the body must make to process the meal.


A study conducted by Ashley Cohen and Carol Johnston at the University of Arizona and published in the journal Metabolism illustrates this effect.   They had type-2 diabetics eat a high carbohydrate breakfast (bagel, butter and juice) with or without a one ounce serving of almonds.  When the study volunteers ate the almonds, their blood sugar peaked 30% lower than when they ate the same breakfast without the almonds. In healthy people eating almonds had only a minor effect on blood sugar; in the healthy control group, almonds lowered blood sugar peak by only 7%.  Cohen and Johnston ran a longer pilot study in which they had diabetic patients eat a serving of almonds 5 days per week for a period of 12 weeks. Their hemoglobin A1c levels dropped by 4%.   This hemoglobin test reveals the patient’s average blood sugar during the preceding three months.  This 4% drop is equivalent to a 10 mg/dl drop in average whole blood glucose (or 1 mmol/L).


When compared for effect, whole almonds appear to have more benefit than either almond butter or almond meal. [Mori et al 2011]


The improvements Cohen and Johnston report are not a cure for diabetes but they are a step in the right direction.  An easy enough step to take.





Metabolism. 2011 Sep;60(9):1312-7. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

Almond ingestion at mealtime reduces postprandial glycemia and chronic ingestion reduces hemoglobin A(1c) in individuals with well-controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Cohen AE, Johnston CS.


Nutrition Program, College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ 85212, USA.


Cohort studies are equivocal regarding a relationship between regular nut consumption and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Although acute trials show reductions in postprandial glycemia in healthy individuals ingesting 60 to 90 g almonds, trials have not been conducted using a single serving of almonds (28 g) in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. This randomized crossover trial examined the impact of one serving of almonds at mealtime on postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and plasma glucagon-like peptide-1 in healthy individuals and individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. On 2 occasions separated by at least 1 week, 19 adults (including 7 adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus) consumed a standardized evening meal and fasted overnight before ingesting the test meal (bagel, juice, and butter) with or without almonds. A small pilot study (6-7 subjects per group) was also conducted to observe whether chronic almond ingestion (1 serving 5 d/wk for 12 weeks) lowered hemoglobin A(1c) in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. A standard serving of almonds reduced postprandial glycemia significantly in participants with diabetes (-30%, P = .043) but did not influence glycemia in participants without diabetes (-7%, P = .638). Insulinemia and glucagon-like peptide-1 at 30 minutes postmeal were not impacted by almond ingestion for either group. In the pilot study, regular almond ingestion for 12 weeks reduced hemoglobin A(1c) by 4% (P = .045 for interaction) but did not influence fasting glucose concentrations. These data show that modest almond consumption favorably improves both short-term and long-term markers of glucose control in individuals with uncomplicated type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.