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Almonds and Blood Sugar: The Research

The Summary:

Over a decade of research has investigated the role of almonds, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, in supporting healthy blood sugar.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes continues to increase rapidly worldwide. According to the most recent 2019 report from the International Diabetes Federation, more than 463 million adults globally were living with diabetes, and by 2045, that number is expected to increase to 700 million. One in two adults have diabetes and unfortunately, are not aware of it. Further, another 374 million people—more than one in 13 adults—have prediabetes (or impaired glucose tolerance), which often progresses to type 2 diabetes.i

The good news is that dietary and lifestyle changes can help with managing blood sugar levels. In fact, making healthy diet swaps is often a first step and one of the most effective ways to manage diabetes. Research suggests that improving physical activity, losing excess weight and making important dietary changes not only help manage type 2 diabetes, but for those with elevated risk, can reduce the risk for developing type 2 diabetes.1

Over a decade of research has investigated the role of almonds, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, in supporting healthy blood sugar. The nutrient profile of almonds—including slow-digesting fiber, plant protein, good monounsaturated fat, only 1 gram of saturated fat per serving and zero sugar—makes them a natural choice for researchers looking at foods and dietary patterns that might support health blood glucose levels.

The Research:

Many randomized controlled studies have been conducted and funded by the Almond Board of California to examine the consumption of almonds in relation to blood glucose control. Studies suggest that including almonds in a healthy diet may have benefits for people with type-2 diabetes (T2D) as well as for those with prediabetes, who are at risk for developing T2D.

One recent studyii conducted in India showed that almonds had a positive impact on both blood sugar control and markers of heart health in adults with type-2 diabetes (T2D). Fifty Asian Indian adults with T2D and elevated cholesterol levels substituted 20% of their daily calories with whole, unroasted almonds as part of a well-balanced diet. They not only saw improvements in hemoglobin A1c (an indicator of longer-term blood sugar control), but in several cardiovascular risk factors linked to type 2 diabetes, including:

  • Waist circumference: an indicator of health risk associated with excess fat around the waist
  • Waist-to-height ratio: a measure of body fat distribution
  • Total cholesterol: a measure of the amount of cholesterol in the blood
  • Triglycerides: a form of fat in the blood that can raise risk for heart disease
  • LDL-cholesterol: the harmful type of cholesterol that is a main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries
  • C-reactive protein: a marker of inflammation in the body

A randomized trial2 in 19 U.S. adults (including seven with T2D) reported a 30% reduction in postprandial glycemia in participants with T2D after eating a a test meal containing one ounce (28 grams) of almonds compared to an almond-free test meal similar in calories, fat and available carbohydrate. The same researchers looked at the longer-term effects of almonds on glucose control in a small group of 13 adults with T2D. Participants consumed a daily one-ounce serving of almonds (five days per week for 12 weeks) or a cheese snack with the same number of calories. After 12 weeks, hemoglobin A1c in individuals with T2D was reduced by 4% from baseline in those in the almond group. The small study size is a limitation of this study. Larger studies will be useful in better understanding the impact of almonds on blood glucose in people with T2D.

Another 12-week study3 assessed the impact of almond consumption (~two ounces or 60g/day) in a cholesterol-lowering diet on short- and long-term glycemic control, blood lipids, endothelial function, oxidative stress and inflammation in 33 Chinese (Taiwanese) adults with T2D. Results showed that among patients with better-controlled blood glucose levels (baseline HbA1c ≤8%), the diet with almonds reduced HbA1c by 3% and fasting blood sugar levels by 5.9% compared to the control diet, suggesting that including almonds in a healthy diet might help further improve blood sugar control in T2D patients with HbA1c ≤8%. Serum cholesterol levels and biomarkers for inflammation and oxidative stress remained unchanged over the course of the study. As with the previous study, the relatively small sample size is a limitation, so larger studies will be useful in better understanding the impact of almonds on blood glucose in people with T2D.

Studies also suggest that as part of a health diet, almonds may have benefits for people with prediabetes.

One studyiii of 275 adolescents and young adults (ages 16-25 in India), with prediabetes looked at the effect of almond consumption on factors of metabolic dysfunction including blood glucose, lipids, insulin and selected inflammatory markers. Those in the almond group ate about 2 one-ounce servings (56 grams) of unroasted almonds every day for three months. Compared to the control group (calorie-equivalent savory snack), those eating almonds daily experienced:  

  • Reduced HbA1c levels, which is a measure of long-term blood glucose control
  • Reduced total cholesterol and harmful LDL-cholesterol, while maintaining beneficial HDL-cholesterol levels

Another study looked at post-meal blood sugar responses in 14 adults with prediabetes. Those who included 1.5 ounces (43 grams) of almonds in their breakfast meal (580 calories) experienced better blood sugar responses not only in the short window immediately after breakfast, but also after a second meal. The control group ate a 347-kcal control breakfast meal, which differed in total dietary energy but provided the same amount of available carbohydrate.4

Click here to learn more about including almonds in your diet for managing diabetes and a healthy weight.

Almonds’ healthy nutrient package

Snacking plays a critical role in your diet if you have diabetes as it helps manage blood glucose levels and even fill nutrient shortfalls. Just one serving of almonds (one ounce) provides a powerful nutrient package with the following:

  • 6 grams of plant protein
  • 4 grams of filling fiber
  • 13 grams of good unsaturated fats (with only 1 gram of saturated fat)
  • Plus, vitamin E (7.3mg) magnesium (76mg) and potassium (210mg)

With unmatched versatility and ways to enjoy in many forms (almond butter, chopped and more), almonds are a smart snack for those watching their blood sugar levels with type 2 diabetes. as part of a healthy eating plan.

Learn more about our extensive almond research

For more than two decades, the Almond Board of California has invested in sound science to better understand the nutrient composition and health benefits of almonds. The ever-expanding body of almond nutrition research totals nearly 200 scientific publications to date, in areas including heart health, weight management, diabetes, nutrient composition, diet quality —and more recently—skin health.

State of the Science

To read and learn more about the State of the Science click here.

Recipe inspiration

Snacking is part of most people’s daily routines—it is especially crucial for those with type 2 diabetes to support healthy blood sugar levels and have good nutrition.  The following recipes are simple and easy to prepare plus provide protein and are high in dietary fiber to keep you fueled for a life on-the-go.

Recipe Inspiration
Parmesan and Parsley Roasted Almonds

Recipe Inspiration
Peri-Peri Almonds

Recipe inspiration
Kerri's Winning Trail Mix

1. Haw JS et al. Long-term Sustainability of Diabetes Prevention Approaches: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. JAMA Intern Med. Published online November 6, 2017. 

2. Cohen A, et al. Almond ingestion at mealtime reduces postprandial glycemia and chronic ingestion reduces hemoglobin A1c in individuals with wellcontrolled type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 2011;60(9), 1312-1317.

3. Chen CM, Liu JF, Li SC, Huang CL, Hsirh AT, Weng SF, Chang ML, Li HT, Mohn E, Chen CO. Almonds ameliorate glycemic control in Chinese patients with better controlled type 2 diabetes: a randomized, crossover, controlled feeding trial. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2017 Aug 2;14:51. doi: 10.1186/s12986-017-0205-3. PMID: 28785295; PMCID: PMC5541642.

4. Mori A, et al. Acute and second-meal effects of almond form in impaired glucose tolerant adults: a randomized crossover trial. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2011;8(1):6.

i. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 9th edition. 2019. Accessed July 14, 2021.

ii. Gulati S, Misra A, Pandey RM. Effect of almond supplementation on glycemia and cardiovascular risk factors in Asian Indians in North India with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A 24-week study. Journal of Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders.2017:15(2):98-105.doi: 10.1089/met.2016.0066.

iii.  Madan J, Desai S, Moitra P, Salis S, Agashe S, Battalwar R, Mehta A, Kamble R, Kalita S, Phatak AG, Udipi SA, Vaidya RA and Vaidya AB (2021) Effect of Almond Consumption on Metabolic Risk Factors—Glucose Metabolism, Hyperinsulinemia, Selected Markers of Inflammation: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Adolescents and Young Adults. Front. Nutr. 8:668622. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.66862.