This section briefly summarizes in less technical terms the results of emerging scientific research related to pistachio nuts. Research is exploring the connection between pistachio consumption and blood glucose levels. To date, studies suggest that the nutrient profile of pistachios helps maintain healthy blood glucose control, and tends to minimize a rise in blood glucose levels when added to certain high carbohydrate meals. More comprehensive studies will need to be conducted to draw conclusive results. Full details can be found in the published articles. The studies are listed in chronological order.
One-hundred-seventeen men and women with type 2 diabetes ate either 475 calories, or 2 ounces, per day (as part of a 2,000 calorie diet) of either mixed nuts (which included pistachios), muffins, or half portions of both. After three months, the group eating 2 ounces of nuts saw improvement in their blood levels of hemoglobin A1C, a measure of blood glucose over time, as well as a reduction in LDL ('bad') cholesterol. The authors suggest that unsalted nuts as part of a calorie-controlled diet can improve diabetic control without weight gain.
Jenkins DJA, Kendall CWC, Banach MS, Srichaikul K, Vidgen E, Mitchell S, TParker T, Nishi S, Bashyam B, de Souza R, Ireland C, Josse RG. 2011. Nuts as a replacement for carbohydrates in the diabetic diet. Diabetes Care. 34:1-6.
Three men and 7 women, average age 48 years, who were overweight but otherwise healthy, ate varying amounts of pistachios alone or with other carbohydrate foods, such as rice, pasta and potatoes. The effect of pistachios on blood glucose levels was measured. Pistachios eaten alone had very little effect on blood glucose levels. When eaten with other carbohydrate foods, pistachios tended to reduce the rise in blood glucose compared to when that food was eaten alone. The authors conclude that pistachios can be part of a calorie-controlled diet that helps maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Further research is needed to evaluate the relationship.
Kendall CW, Josse AR, Esfahani A, Jenkins DJ. 2011. The impact of pistachio intake alone or in combination with high-carbohydrate foods on post-prandial glycemia. Eur J Clin Nutr. 65(6):696-702.
This study reviews the scientific information on nuts, including pistachios, in the prevention and management of diabetes. Nuts are low in carbohydrate, have healthy fats, and are high in vegetable protein, fiber and magnesium. When eaten alone or with other foods, nuts tend to prevent a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. The authors conclude that nuts can be included in diets to manage diabetes.
Kendall CW, Esfahani A, Truan J, Srichaikul K, Jenkins DJ. 2010. Health benefits of nuts in prevention and management of diabetes. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr.19(1):110-6.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical problems that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes, and it can occur especially as people get older. It includes overweight, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and high blood glucose. This study reviews the science of how nuts, including pistachios, may protect against metabolic syndrome. The authors conclude that eating moderate amounts of nuts may be of benefit for healthy individuals, as well as those at risk for metabolic syndrome.
Kendall CW, Josse AR, Esfahani A, Jenkins DJ. Nuts, metabolic syndrome and diabetes 2010. Br J Nutr. Aug;104(4):465-73.
To learn more about the health benefits of nuts in general, visit nuthealth.org.