Why pistachios are a must-eat for diabetics

Pistachios, when eaten with common high-carbohydrate foods such as white bread, may actually slow the absorption of carbohydrates into the body, resulting in a lower than expected blood sugar level according to a study conducted by the University of Toronto. Healthy snacks such as pistachios can help control diabetes in a country like India where 40 million people suffer from the disease, and this figure is likely to go up to 80 million by 2025.

Individuals with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease. In the last few decades, India has emerged as the world capital for heart diseases. According to the World Health Organisation, 60 per cent of the world's cardiac patients will be Indian by 2010. Recent research at the University of Toronto, found eating one to two handfuls of pistachios a day results in a nine to 12 per cent reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. “Our preliminary findings demonstrate that suppressing the glycemic (blood sugar) response of high carbohydrate foods may be part of the mechanism by which pistachios contribute to the prevention and control of diabetes,” said Dr. Cyril Kendall, lead researcher of the study and a professor in the University of Toronto's Department of Nutritional Sciences. According to an Indo-U.S. study, there are about 2.98 million people suffering from diabetes in New Delhi alone. The University of Toronto study shows that when eaten with a high glycemic index food such as white bread, pistachios help blunt the rise in blood sugar and reduced hunger-stimulating hormones. This helps control appetite, and may have a benefit in improving long-term blood sugar control. The research led by the University of Toronto's Dr. Cyril Kendall and Dr. David Jenkins found that certain carbohydrates elevate blood sugar levels more quickly than other foods – like pistachios – that contain higher levels of protein, fibre and monounsaturated fat. In general, foods that do not quickly raise blood sugar are considered healthier than their processed counterparts.

The researchers monitored the effect of pistachios consumed with different common carbohydrate foods on postprandial glycemia, or blood sugar levels after eating. The addition of pistachios to a number of other commonly consumed carbohydrate-rich foods — such as mashed potatoes, pasta and rice — resulted in significant reductions in the blood sugar response, compared to when these foods were eaten alone.