Almonds and Parsley
Almonds and Parsleys. Creative Commons

With nearly 16 million Americans living with pre-diabetes condition, half of all Americans are expected to have some form of diabetes by the year 2020. One way to avoid is exercise, coupled with a healthy eating. A recent study shows that almonds in your diet can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and also heart-related diseases.

The study, published in the June 2010 Journal of the American College of Nutrition, illustrates that consuming a diet rich in almonds may help improve insulin sensitivity and decrease LDL-cholesterol levels in those with pre-diabetes.

We have made great strides in chronic disease research from evidence of effective treatment to evidence of effective prevention, said Dr. Michelle Wien, Assistant Research Professor in Nutrition at Loma Linda University's School of Public Health and Principal Investigator for this study, which was conducted at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. In a press release, Wien also said, It is promising for those with risk factors for chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, that dietary changes may help to improve factors that play a potential role in the disease development.

The study looked at the effects of consuming an almond-enriched diet in adults with pre-diabetes. After 16 weeks of consuming either an almond-enriched or regular diet, both of which conformed with American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommendations, the group that consumed an almond-enriched diet showed significantly improved LDL cholesterol levels and measures of insulin sensitivity, risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Study at a Glance:

* The People: 65 adults with pre-diabetes (48 women and 17 men) with an average age in the mid-50s.(4)
* The Diet: The study population was randomly divided into either the group consuming almonds or the control group. The control group consumed a diet in accordance with the ADA recommendations. The group that consumed almonds followed the same diet, but with 20% of the calories from almonds. A caveat is that although study participants in both groups were instructed to consume the same amount of calories from carbohydrate-containing foods (i.e. bread, rice, pasta), there was less self-reported intake of carbohydrate-containing foods among those consuming the almond-enriched diet.
* The Results: The intervention group, who were on an almond-enriched diet, showed greater improvements in insulin sensitivity and clinically significant reductions in LDL-cholesterol as compared to the nut-free group.

Overall, this study suggests that consuming an ADA-recommended diet consisting of 20 percent of the total calories from almonds for 16 weeks is effective in improving LDL cholesterol levels and measures of insulin sensitivity in individuals with pre-diabetes. Nutrients in almonds, such as fiber and unsaturated fat, have been shown to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and increase insulin sensitivity, both of which help to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

It shows almond consumption not only aids in disease management, but may also help reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. Almonds offer 3.5 grams of fiber, 13 grams of unsaturated fat and only 1 gram of saturated fat per one-ounce serving.