Diabetes and Almonds: What You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD on November 29, 2017Written by Juliann Schaeffer

Overview

Almonds may be bite-sized, but these nuts pack a big nutritional punch. They’re an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E and manganese. They’re also a good source of:

In fact, “almonds are actually one of the highest protein sources among tree nuts,” said Peggy O’Shea-Kochenbach, MBA, RDN, LDN, a dietitian and consultant in Boston.

Are almonds beneficial for people with diabetes?

Almonds, while nutritionally beneficial for most people, are especially good for people with diabetes. “Research has shown that almonds may reduce the rise in glucose (blood sugar) and insulin levels after meals,” said O’Shea-Kochenbach.

In a 2011 study, researchers found that the consumption of 2 ounces of almonds was associated with lower levels of fasting insulin and fasting glucose. This amount consists of about 45 almonds. The key in this study is that the participants reduced their caloric intake by enough to accommodate the addition of the almonds so that no extra calories were consumed.

A 2010 study found that eating almonds may help increase insulin sensitivity in people with prediabetes.

Almonds and magnesium

Almonds are high in magnesium. Experimental studies have suggested that dietary magnesium intake may reduce a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In a 2012 study, researchers found that long-term high blood sugar levels may cause a loss of magnesium via urine. Because of this, people with diabetes may be at a greater risk for magnesium deficiency. Learn more about mineral deficiencies.

Almonds and your heart

Almonds may reduce your risk of heart disease. This is important for people with diabetes. According to the World Heart Federation, people with diabetes are at a higher risk of heart disease.

“Almonds are high in monounsaturated fat,” said O’Shea-Kochenbach, “which is the same type of fat we often hear associated with olive oil for its heart-health benefits.” According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), an ounce of almonds contains nearly 9 grams of monounsaturated fat.

Nuts are a high-calorie snack, but they don’t seem to contribute to increased weight gain when eaten in moderation. Not only do they contain healthy fats, but they also leave you feeling satisfied.

How many almonds should I eat?

A few almonds can go a long way toward filling you up. Try to stick to a 1-ounce serving, which is about 23 almonds. According to the USDA, 1 ounce of almonds contains:

  • 164 calories
  • 6 grams of protein
  • 3.5 grams of dietary fiber

To avoid mindless eating, try portioning out your almonds in small containers or plastic bags. Some companies also sell almonds in single-serving packages for an easy grab-and-go option.

The versatile almond

The grocery store offers a wealth of almond products, such as almond milk, various flavored almonds, almond butter, and more. When selecting an almond product, read the Nutrition Facts label. Be wary of the sodium and sugar that can come from certain flavorings. Also watch out for the carbohydrate and sugar content in chocolate-covered nuts.

Are you ready to start enjoying the benefits of almonds but don’t know where to start? Almonds are incredibly versatile, so the possibilities are close to endless.

Breakfast

For breakfast, try sprinkling chopped, slivered, or shaved almonds on dry cereal or oatmeal, which has additional benefits for people with diabetes. Spread almond butter on a piece of toast or add a tablespoon to your morning smoothie.

Snacks

If you’re looking to spice up a snack, try adding whole almonds to trail mix, or pair them with an appropriate portion of your favorite fresh fruit. Almonds are also tasty on their own, and a great way to get you through an afternoon slump.

Lunch and dinner

Toasted whole-grain, high-fiber bread or apple slices spread with almond butter are great mini-meal options. For dinner, almonds can easily be added to a number of entrees. Try sprinkling them on salads, into a stir-fry, or on cooked vegetables, as in green beans amandine. You can even stir them into rice or other grain side dishes.

Dessert

Almonds can even be integrated into dessert. Sprinkle them on top of frozen yogurt for an added crunch. You can also use almond meal in place of flour when baking.

The takeaway

Almonds offer a host of nutritional benefits and flavor, especially for people with diabetes. They’re versatile and can easily be added to a wide variety of meals. They’re high in calories, so remember to stick to recommended serving sizes to get the most from this nutritious nut.

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