Study Pistachios Contain Health Benefits For Women With Gestational Diabetes

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017 | 1413 Views

Study Pistachios Contain Health Benefits For Women With Gestational Diabetes Results of a study conducted at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China, found that eating pistachios may help manage blood sugar levels among pregnant women with gestational diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic illness that affects more than 422 million people around the world. GDM is a type of diabetes that develops in a pregnant woman who did not previously have diabetes. Like other types of diabetes, it affects how the body uses blood sugar.

Pregnant women with glucose intolerance during gestation (GIGT) or gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM)—commonly known as gestational diabetes—were evaluated to monitor their glucose response after consumption of pistachios.

GIGT occurs when during pregnancy, the body is unable to regulate blood glucose levels normally because of hormonal changes. The blood glucose levels rise 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.

In the study, 30 women with gestational diabetes were randomly assigned to eat a breakfast of either 42 grams of pistachios 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 hormone, were measured every 30 minutes after the meal, up to 120 minutes. After seven days, the groups switched.

“The results highlight pistachios as a smart food choice for women with gestational diabetes as they aim to manage their illness,” said Dr Sheng Ge, lead investigator, chief physician and director of the Clinical Nutrition at the Sixth People’s Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China.

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 minutes.

The effect on insulin levels was found to be even more dramatic. Blood insulin levels did not increase during the two hours after eating the pistachios. 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 diabetes,” said Dr Zhaoping Li, 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 critical time.”

Pistachios have a low glycemic index, are relatively high in fibre, healthy fats, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, all of which can benefit people with diabetes. Eating pistachios has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels after eating a meal and, when added to a carbohydrate-rich meal, they help minimise any spike in blood sugar.

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