Are Almonds Good For Diabetes? Benefits & How To Use In 2024

Donald Romeo

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

are almonds good for diabetes
A small bowl filled with nutritious almonds, a diabetes-friendly snack.

Navigating nutrition for diabetes management can be daunting. Amid a sea of dietary advice, almonds emerge as a topic of interest. Almonds are loaded with nutrients; these nuts may regulate blood sugar and reduce heart disease risk – which is crucial for those with diabetes. 

But the key questions remain, is eating almonds good for diabetes, and is almond flour good for diabetes? Unraveling the complex relationship between almonds and diabetes, we aim to uncover their potential benefits. 

From the humble whole nut to versatile almond flour, we’ll navigate the nutty terrain, providing insights into effectively incorporating these powerhouse foods into a diabetes-friendly diet. Our exploration might lead you to a simple, tasty, and nutritious strategy to assist your diabetes management journey, with almonds at the forefront. 

Are Almonds Good For Diabetes?

Yes, almonds can be a good choice in moderation for those who have diabetes. Low in carbs and high in healthy fats, fiber, and protein, they help regulate blood sugar levels. The good fats improve insulin sensitivity, while the fiber prevents sugar spikes. Almonds make a fantastic snack with their satisfying protein content and essential nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese. Remember, moderation is vital due to their calorie density. So go ahead and enjoy a handful of raw or unsalted almonds as a part of your diabetes-friendly plan. Always consult your healthcare team for personalized advice.

The Link Between Almonds And Diabetes

Diabetes, a chronic disorder, can hinder the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels effectively. Amidst numerous dietary recommendations for managing this condition, almonds have recently garnered attention for their potential benefits. These protein-packed nuts with low glycemic index aid in controlling blood sugar spikes due to nutrients, healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants.

Is eating almonds good for diabetes? A research study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association[1] suggests that regularly including almonds can improve glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes. This positive impact is primarily attributed to the monounsaturated fats in almonds, which can slow down the glucose release rate into the bloodstream, thereby aiding in preventing blood sugar spikes.

Further, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition[2] highlights that almond intake can potentially decrease inflammation markers in individuals with type 2 diabetes. This could be another critical aspect of diabetes management, as chronic inflammation often accompanies insulin resistance.

Health Advantages Of Almonds For Diabetes

The myriad of health benefits of almonds for those managing diabetes cannot be overstated. These benefits are primarily attributed to the potential of almonds to enhance insulin sensitivity and control long-term blood sugar levels. 

Almonds contain many essential nutrients, such as healthy fats, fiber, protein, and antioxidants. These constituents synergistically slow digestion, thus minimizing the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream — a key consideration in diabetes management.

In addition to their blood sugar management benefits, almonds can significantly contribute to weight management, a vital element in controlling diabetes. Due to their high fiber and protein content, almonds induce a feeling of satiety, potentially reducing calorie intake.

Almonds are also rich in magnesium, an essential mineral in blood sugar regulation. Research has shown that a magnesium deficiency can worsen insulin resistance,[3] thus emphasizing the importance of this mineral in a diabetic diet.

Including almonds in one’s diet can naturally ensure magnesium intake. However, if required, one can also use vitamins and supplements rich in magnesium to meet the daily dietary requirements. 

How Many Almonds To Eat Per Day?

While the multitude of health benefits derived from almonds is well-documented, it’s vital to approach their consumption with a balanced perspective, especially for individuals managing diabetes. 

Although densely packed with nutrients like protein, fiber, and healthy fats, almonds are also calorically dense. Therefore, moderation is key to optimizing health advantages without overstepping the daily calorie intake limit. One tablespoon, or one-fourth ounce, is considered a fat exchange[4] on the meal plan for diabetes; depending on your caloric and insulin needs, your number of exchanges is based on activity, caloric needs for weight goals, and blood sugars.

A helpful guideline that people with diabetes can adopt is to consume a portion of almonds roughly equivalent to a handful or about one ounce (approximately 23 almonds). This portion, however, represents four fat servings from the meal exchange list, far too many for a day’s allotment of fat exchanges. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture,[5] this serving size contains around 164 calories, which fits comfortably within most dietary plans for healthy individuals. Still, it may be too many for those who have to manage blood glucose levels and follow an exchange list for meal planning.

Way To Consume Almonds For People With Diabetes

When seeking to manage diabetes, exploring different dietary options is crucial, and almonds present themselves as a versatile choice that can be seamlessly integrated into a diabetic-friendly diet. 

Enjoying these nutrient-rich nuts raw as a snack provides a tasty option to keep hunger at bay while maintaining blood glucose levels. Moreover, adding almonds to breakfast cereals directly or through the use of sugar-free almond milk, incorporating them into salads or yogurts, or even using almond flour in cooking and baking brings variety and nutritional benefits.

Almond flour, a product of ground almonds, has seen increased popularity among individuals with diabetes. This trend is due to its low-carbohydrate and high-fiber profile, making it a suitable replacement for traditional flour in various recipes. Research[6] demonstrates that consuming foods with high fiber content, like almond butter or flour, can support blood sugar control.

However, despite the advantages of almond flour for those with diabetes, it’s pivotal to be mindful of the other ingredients used in recipes. High-sugar or high-carb ingredients can offset the benefits of using almond flour, leading to blood sugar spikes. Thus, a balanced approach, as suggested by the American Diabetes Association,[7] is crucial to maintain overall glycemic control.

Almonds offer many benefits for individuals with diabetes, but mindful incorporation into the diet is vital. Opting for almond-based products and integrating them into your meals can be beneficial, provided they are balanced with other nutrients. Individual dietary requirements may vary, making personalized advice from registered dietitians and preferably certified diabetes educators paramount.

Other Nuts That Are Beneficial For Diabetes

Walnuts 

Your Omega-3 Powerhouses: If you’re looking for a nut that’s big on benefits for type 2 diabetes, look no further than walnuts. These nutritional[8] stars are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, known for their insulin sensitivity-boosting power. Moreover, they’re a fiber-rich source of healthy fats, making them an excellent ally in your journey to control blood sugar levels.

Peanuts

The Protein-Packed Legumes: Peanuts might be legumes, but their nutrient profile[9] earns them a spot on our list. Peanuts come loaded with fiber and protein, two critical players in blood sugar regulation. Plus, they offer a good dose of magnesium, an essential mineral for blood sugar control, often lacking in people with diabetes.

Pistachios 

The Antioxidant-Rich Nut: Pistachios bring a powerful combination[10] of healthy fats, fiber, and protein, all of which help keep blood sugar levels in check. But they don’t stop there – pistachios are also packed with antioxidants, offering protection against oxidative stress, a common challenge for those with diabetes.

Cashews 

The Lower-Fat Nut Option: Cashews stand out in nutrition[11] regarding fiber and protein content. They pack in fewer fats than many other nuts, which can be a win if you watch your weight. But remember, they are a bit higher in carbohydrates, so practice portion control.

Hazelnuts 

Vitamin E Stalwarts: Hazelnuts[12] earn their stripes with high monounsaturated fats, fiber, and protein levels. They’re also a great source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help tamp down inflammation and oxidative stress, common issues for individuals with diabetes.

Pecans

The Heart-Healthy Heroes: Pecans aren’t just delicious; they’re also loaded with nutrients,[13] such as monounsaturated fats, promoting good heart health. Add a decent dose of fiber and protein, and you have a nut for blood sugar regulation.

The Bottom Line

Integrating almonds into a balanced, nutrient-rich diet can yield substantial health benefits, especially for those managing diabetes. The ability of almonds to regulate blood sugar levels, foster cardiovascular health, and aid in weight management makes them an attractive dietary addition for people with diabetes.

Thanks to their low glycemic index and richness in monounsaturated fats, almonds can slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream, helping prevent sudden blood sugar spikes, a primary concern for individuals with diabetes.

Almonds are also advantageous for cardiovascular health, an essential consideration since people with diabetes are often at an increased risk of heart disease. Almonds are abundant in heart-healthy fats, antioxidants, and magnesium, contributing to heart health.

Almonds are a strategic choice for weight management due to their high fiber and protein content, fostering feelings of fullness and potentially reducing calorie intake. However, it’s crucial to consider their caloric density to ensure portion control and prevent unintentional weight gain.

As with all foods for diabetes, you should be mindful of almond consumption within a diverse and balanced diet to harness their potential health benefits optimally for managing diabetes.


+ 13 sources

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  1. Berryman, C.E., West, S.K., Fleming, J., Bordi, P.L. and Kris-Etherton, P.M. (2015). Effects of Daily Almond Consumption on Cardiometabolic Risk and Abdominal Adiposity in Healthy Adults With Elevated LDL‐Cholesterol: A Randomized Controlled Trial. [online] 4(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1161/jaha.114.000993.
  2. Announcements. (2013). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [online] 97(4), pp.906–906. doi:https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.113.906.
  3. Barbagallo, M. and Dominguez, L.J. (2015). Magnesium and type 2 diabetes. [online] 6(10), pp.1152–1152. doi:https://doi.org/10.4239/wjd.v6.i10.1152.
  4. THE DIABETIC EXCHANGE LIST (EXCHANGE DIET). (n.d.). Available at: http://www.diabetesed.net/page/_files/THE-DIABETIC-EXCHANGE-LIST.pdf.
  5. Usda.gov. (2018). Food Composition Databases Show Foods — Nuts, almonds. [online] Available at: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/12061.
  6. Nishi, S.K., Viguiliouk, E., Cyril, David J.A. Jenkins, Hu, F.B., Sievenpiper, J.L., Alessandro Atzeni, Misra, A. and Jordi Salas-Salvadó (2023). Nuts in the Prevention and Management of Type 2 Diabetes. [online] 15(4), pp.878–878. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15040878.
  7. Diabetes.org. (2023). Recipes & Nutrition | ADA. [online] Available at: https://diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition
  8. Usda.gov. (2023). FoodData Central. [online] Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170187/nutrients
  9. Usda.gov. (2023). FoodData Central. [online] Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2515376/nutrients
  10. Usda.gov. (2023). FoodData Central. [online] Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2515379/nutrients
  11. Usda.gov. (2023). FoodData Central. [online] Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2515374/nutrients
  12. Usda.gov. (2023). FoodData Central. [online] Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170581/nutrients
  13. Usda.gov. (2023). FoodData Central. [online] Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2346395/nutrients
Donald Romeo

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Donald Romeo is a highly skilled health and wellness writer and a dedicated nutritional researcher. His expertise unravels the intricate connections between nutrition, holistic health, and well-being. With an astute understanding of nutritional science and a talent for translating complex concepts into accessible content, Donald brings valuable insights to his readers. He is committed to empowering individuals by providing practical and evidence-based advice to support their wellness journey. Through his engaging articles, Donald inspires readers to make informed choices, adopt healthier habits, and embrace a holistic approach to their overall vitality.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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