Can a diabetic patient eat almonds? Almonds for Diabetes Patients

“If words had flavors, hers would be bitter almonds and coffee grounds.”

– Jodi Picoult

Almonds have been considered rich foods since a long time, indeed they are. However, almonds for diabetes patients has neutral role if not a notorious one. This article will tell you about the glycemic status of almonds and the iron content within them. 

Nutrition

Table showing nutritional facts of 100g of almonds
Calories 576  
GI 0  
Saturated fats 3.7g 18%
Carbs 22g (3.9g sugars & 12g dietary fibers) 1% (17% & 48%)
Proteins 21g  

 

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

GI = 0 VERY GOOD -> When glycemic index is zero it doesn’t mean that the food item won’t cause any rise in blood sugar levels. The inference that we have to take from such a value of glycemic index is that the rise in blood glucose level will be slow enough to maintain the balance between the glucose absorption by gut and glucose uptake in the peripheral cells.

Therefore, GL = 0 à since, the glycemic index of almonds is zero; given the formula for the glycemic load, it has to be zero, irrespective of the serving size. This makes it difficult to calculate the serving size of the almonds. But, it doesn’t mean we can have as much almonds as we want. To understand this fact, consider that glycemic index is not absolutely zero but somewhere with 1 or 2 decimal points after zero. Let’s say 0.1 à this will lead us to at least some non-zero value so that we are satisfied mathematically. However, the point is, we need not put lot of brains into it because nobody tends to eat more than a handful of almonds!

Proteins and fats

Although, almonds contain a whooping 21g of proteins per 100g serving, these lack some essential amino acids. These are the sulfur containing essential amino acids mainly methionine and cysteine which are lacking as compared to the adult necessary dose of these amino acids. Climbing nutrition reports the PDCAAS (a score that determines the quality of test protein) for almonds to be 23-25 which is far lower than the recommended 70 (maximum possible is 100).

The almond fats are contained at 3.7g of saturated fats. This accounts for 18% of recommended daily allowance. Thus, 100g of almonds may be good from the point of view of zero glycemic index, but it also gives high saturated fats and low protein quality. Thus, a handful of almonds is what we need and we would want!

Micronutrients

Almonds are rich in calcium, magnesium and iron. They contain a good amount of vitamin B6 too.

Calcium – 26% of RDA | A study on effects of specific dosage of Calcium and Vitamin D3 supplements suggests that there is reduction in insulin resistance and episodes of increased plasma glucose. Thus, foods such as dairy products which and almonds which are high in calcium can be useful for type 2 diabetics.

Read post: Is milk OK for a diabetic?

Magnesium – 67% of RDA | Please read this post to know the benefits of magnesium among diabetic individuals.

Iron – 20% of RDA | Iron is present in good amount in almonds. But the sad part is that the iron has pathogenic role to play in the development of diabetes mellitus and its complications mainly retinopathy (eye complication) and nephropathy (kidney complication). Thus, almonds, if consumed too much, can help diabetes to develop further through its iron stores.

Vitamin B6 – 5% of RDA | Deficiency of vitamin B6 leads to reduction in circulating levels of insulin mainly caused by deficiency induced degenerative changes in the beta cells of pancreas which are the insulin secreting cells of the pancreas.

Conclusion

Although almonds have a zero glycemic index, the iron content can act notorious. Almonds for diabetes patients may be bad due to the fact that 100g of almonds contain 20% RDA of iron and iron is known to affect the insulin sensitivity and the liver function. However, this can be avoided by consuming only 4-5 almonds at a time and not daily.

Warning:

  • Almost every individual, diabetic or non-diabetic, has its own bodily mechanism and metabolism. It is always cautioned that food recommendations should be correlated with personal health history and the advice of the doctor.
  • These calculations are based on the daily calorie intake of 2000. Therefore, if your calorie intake exceeds 2000 a day, you can increase the ideal serving size and vice versa. However, the recommended blood glucose level still remains the same.

Also, it is a good practice to have a rough calculation of the nutritional facts of the food items before eating them. This applies to the people belonging to all the spectra of health and fitness and not just diabetics.

Do you want me to analyse any other food item? Comment your request below.

References

  • Glycemic Index for Almonds | LiveStrong
  • Ahrens S, Venkatachalam M, Mistry AM, Lapsley K, Sathe SK. Almond (Prunus dulcis L.) protein quality. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2005;60(3):123-8.
  • The Best Sources of Protein | Climbing Nutrition
  • Pittas AG, Harris SS, Stark PC, Dawson-hughes B. The effects of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on blood glucose and markers of inflammation in nondiabetic adults. Diabetes Care. 2007;30(4):980-6.
  • Swaminathan S, Fonseca VA, Alam MG, Shah SV. The role of iron in diabetes and its complications. Diabetes Care. 2007;30(7):1926-33.
  • Jain SK. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxamine) supplementation and complications of diabetes. Metab Clin Exp. 2007;56(2):168-71.

Hey there, I'm a final year undergrad medical student at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Medical College (SSRMC), Mauritius.

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  1. Pingback: Can a diabetic patient eat avocado? Avocado and diabetes | Diabetics Today

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