Eating almonds before meals may improve blood sugar in prediabetics, studies show

PTI, Mar 21, 2023, 3:06 PM IST

Snacking on almonds before meals improved blood sugar control in overweight and obese people with prediabetes, according to two new studies conducted in Indian participants.

The first study conducted over three days was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the second carried over three months appears in the journal Clinical Nutrition ESPEN.

The researchers found that three-month almond intervention reversed prediabetes, or glucose intolerance, to normal blood sugar levels in nearly one quarter (23.3 per cent) of the people studied.

In both the studies, 60 people ate 20 grammes of almonds, around a small handful, 30 minutes before breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the study durations.

They found better glucose control over time through dietary strategies like including almonds could help stave off diabetes progression, the researchers said. ”Results from our studies indicate almonds might be a key differentiator in helping regulate blood glucose levels as part of a dietary strategy,” said study lead author Anoop Misra, Professor and Chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases, and Endocrinology, New Delhi.

”These results showcase that the simple addition of a small portion of almonds before each meal can quickly and drastically improve glycemic control in Asian Indians in India with prediabetes in just three days,” Misra said.

Almonds’ nutritional makeup of fibre, monounsaturated fats, zinc, and magnesium work together to help provide better glycemic control and reduce hunger, the researchers said.

Seema Gulati, head, Nutrition Research Group, National Diabetes, Obesity, and Cholesterol Foundation, and co-author of the studies, noted that in view of the increasing prevalence of diabetes, dietary strategies like consuming almonds 30 minutes before major meals offers a good option to decrease the spike in blood glucose levels after meals.

The study participants were randomised into either the almond treatment group or into the control group. Both were provided with diet and exercise counselling as well as home-use glucometers to measure their glucose levels, which were recorded in diaries along with dietary intake and exercise.

Eating 20 grammes of almonds ahead of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for three months resulted in statistically significant reductions for the treatment group in body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, skinfold tests for shoulder and hip areas, as well as improved handgrip strength, the researchers said.

Similarly, reductions were seen for fasting glucose, postprandial insulin, hemoglobin A1c, proinsulin, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and very low-density lipoprotein, they said.

No changes occurred with beneficial HDL-cholesterol, meaning this cardioprotective lipid was maintained despite other observed biochemical alterations, according to the researchers.

These substantial metabolic improvements led to nearly one-fourth (23.3 per cent) of the prediabetes study participants returning to normal blood glucose regulation, they added.

”These findings are meaningful for global public health given the prevalence of diabetes, the troubling rates of progression from prediabetes to diabetes,” the researchers said.

”They are specifically relevant to Asian Indians in India who are disproportionately impacted because of their greater tendency to progress from prediabetes to diabetes,” they added.

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