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World Diabetes Day 2018: Including Almonds in Diet may Boost Heart Health in Diabetic People

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Including almonds in the diet may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes, researchers have found. According to the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes currently affects over 425 million people worldwide, and more than 72.9 million cases were reported in India in 2017.  A study, published in the Journal of Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, on 50 Indians with type 2 diabetes and elevated cholesterol levels, found that substituting whole, unroasted almonds for 20 calories in a well-balanced diet significantly improved measures of heart health linked to type 2 diabetes.

Another study, published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, looked at the effect of including 60 grams of almonds a day on maintenance of blood sugar levels and cardiovascular disease factors among 33 Chinese participants with type 2 diabetes.

While the almond diet offered better overall nutritional quality, neither diet with or without almonds improved blood sugar status, nor most cardiovascular risk factors as was expected. However, researchers found that among a subset of participants who had fairly well-controlled type 2 diabetes, the almond diet lowered fasting serum glucose level (which measures blood sugar levels after fasting) by 6 percent and HbA1c (which measures average blood sugar levels over a two or three month period) by 3 percent. These results suggest that including almonds in a healthy diet may help improve long-term blood sugar levels in people with better-controlled type 2 diabetes.

A randomised controlled clinical study published in the Journal of Functional Foods investigated the effects of adding 1.5 ounces of almonds to the diet for 12 weeks on diabetes and heart disease risk factors in 21 American adults with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. Participants in the almond-consuming group experienced a 30 percent reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, a marker of inflammation associated with increased heart disease risk, compared to those who did not consume almonds.

Inflammation is thought to play a role in heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, and elevated CRP is linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes, researchers said. The nutrient profile of almonds – low on the glycemic index and providing a powerful nutrient package including dietary fibre, protein, calcium and folate, makes them a smart snack for those with type 2 diabetes in a healthy eating plan, they said.

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