Results of a new study among pregnant women with impaired glucose
intolerance during gestation (GIGT) or gestational diabetes mellitus
(GDM) – commonly known as gestational diabetes – show that eating
pistachios may help manage blood sugar levels. The study is the first to
evaluate the glucose response after consumption of pistachios in
pregnant women with GDM or GIGT. The data were presented during the
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' 2017 Food & Nutrition Conference &
Expo™ in Chicago, Illinois.
Diabetes is a chronic illness that affects more than 422 million people
around the world.1 Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a
type of diabetes that develops in a pregnant woman who did not
previously have diabetes.2 Like other types of diabetes, it
affects how the body uses blood sugar.3,4 Impaired glucose
tolerance during gestation (GIGT) occurs when, during pregnancy, the
body is unable to regulate blood glucose levels normally because of
hormonal changes. The blood glucose levels raise beyond normal levels
after a glucose challenge, but not high enough to warrant a diabetes
diagnosis. While resolved after the baby is born, women with either GDM
or GIGT have a greater risk of developing diabetes.
According to the latest diagnostic criteria established by the
International Association of Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Groups
(IADPSG) in 2010, GDM prevalence was estimated at 9.8 - 25.5% worldwide.
"Our study is the first to show that eating pistachios may help women
with gestational diabetes control their blood sugar levels after
eating," said Sheng Ge, M.D., lead investigator, Chief Physician and
Director of Clinical Nutrition at the Sixth People's Hospital, Shanghai
Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China, where the study was conducted.
"The results highlight pistachios as a smart food choice for women with
gestational diabetes as they aim to manage their illness."
In the study, 30 women with gestational diabetes (all between 24 - 28
gestational weeks) were randomly assigned to eat a breakfast of either
42 grams of pistachios (about 1/3 of a cup, or 1 ½ servings) or 100
grams of whole wheat bread (two slices) after an overnight fast. The
pistachios and whole wheat bread were matched for calories. Blood sugar
and GLP-1, a key insulin-producing hormone5, were measured
every 30 minutes after the meal, up to 120 minutes. After seven days,
the groups switched.
Blood sugar levels were significantly lower after consuming pistachios
than they were after consuming whole wheat bread after 30 minutes, 60
minutes, 90 minutes and 120 minutes. In fact, blood sugar levels after
eating pistachios were comparable to baseline levels. In addition, GLP-1
levels were significantly higher after consumption of pistachios
compared to whole wheat bread after 60 minutes, 90 minutes and 120
The effect on insulin levels was even more dramatic. Blood insulin
levels did not increase during the two hours after eating the
pistachios. Again, both groups of women had a significantly lower rise
in blood insulin levels at every time point measured after eating the
pistachios than they did after eating whole wheat bread.
"Elevated blood sugar during pregnancy not only impacts the mother's
health, but it may also increase the baby's risk of developing diabetes6,"
said Zhaoping Li, M.D., another study investigator and Professor of
Medicine, Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition, University of
California, Los Angeles. "This study shows pistachios can be a useful
addition to the diet in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels
while providing essential nutrients to the mother and baby during this
Dr. Li added, "It's exciting to see solutions from whole foods that are
also palatable to patients. They're much more likely to comply with a
prescribed diet as a result of a diabetes diagnosis when the food is
something they enjoy."
Pistachios have a low Glycemic Index (GI), are relatively high in fiber,
healthy fats, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, all of
which can benefit people with diabetes.7 Eating pistachios
has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels after eating a meal and, when
added to a carbohydrate-rich meal, they help minimize any spike in blood
Pistachios used in the study were grown in the United States.
The study was supported by the United States Department of Agriculture
and American Pistachio Growers, a non-profit trade association
representing more than 700 member growers in the Western US. None of the
funding sources played a role in the collection, analysis or
interpretation of the data.
About American Pistachio Growers
American Pistachio Growers is a voluntary trade association representing
more than 800 members who are pistachio growers, processors and industry
partners in California, Arizona and New Mexico. For more information on
the study and to see the nutrition profile of US-grown pistachios, visit www.AmericanPistachios.org.
Hernandez-‐Alonso P, Bullo M, Salas-‐Salvado J. Pistachios for
health. What do we know about this multifaceted nut? Nutrition Today
51(3):133-‐1382016 doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000160
CW, Josse AR, Esfahani A, Jenkins DJ. The impact of pistachio intake
alone or in combination with high-carbohydrate foods on post-prandial
glycemia. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011;65(6):696–702. [PubMed]
View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180128005035/en/