As a diabetic, you can eat pistachios with your condition safely and not have to worry about your blood sugar rising. This is because pistachios are a low glycemic food, with a glycemic index and load score similar to that of cashews and other nuts and their effects on blood sugar are minimal. However, seen that they are an important source of fat and calories, in order to avoid weight gain and associated side effects for diabetes, they are best consumed in limited amounts and not quite every day.
Do pistachios raise blood sugar?
Pistachios blood sugar effects are minimal, even though the culinary nuts are an important source of carbohydrates. With a total of 27.17 g of carbs per 100 g, 7.66 g of which are sugars and another 8.91 g digestible carbohydrates that contribute to blood sugar levels as well, you’d think pistachios would make blood sugar go up high. However, of the total carbohydrate content, 10.6 g are represented by indigestible dietary fiber that slows down the rate of sugar absorption into the bloodstream, stomping the rise.
In addition to this, there are over 45 g of fat and over 20 g of protein in 100 g of pistachios, both of which have the same effects as fiber. Which means that, despite the impressive carbohydrate profile, eating pistachios doesn’t raise blood sugar very much because the fiber, fats and protein greatly outweigh the effects of the digestible carbohydrates. And despite some level of variation, the raw, roasted and otherwise cooked nuts can all be expected to yield a minimal glycemic response.
But do pistachios lower blood sugar?
Actually, yes. Pistachios are a low-glycemic food. Eating them separate from other foods will likely have little effect on blood sugar. But eating them with other, higher glycemic foods should lower the glycemic effects of those other foods. For example, eating a small serving of raw pistachios with a higher-glycemic food like a banana should technically lower the effects on blood sugar of the banana.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can eat as much pistachios as you want if you have diabetes. Carbohydrates are not the only nutritional aspect to control. The nut variety is also high in fat (over 45 g of fat per 100 g) and, consequently, calories (560 kcal per 100 g). If you eat too much too often, over time, the excess fat and calorie intake will translate into weight gain which both predisposes to and worsens the metabolic condition.
How much pistachios can you eat with diabetes?
Diabetics can eat pistachios in moderation, preferably not every single day. Serving size is estimated at 1 oz, which equals 28.35 g or about 1/4 of 100 g. Ideally, one or two such servings per day are enough to enjoy the benefits of pistachios for both diabetes and general health. Examples of health benefits associated with regular, but modest consumption include: better blood sugar control, improved insulin sensitivity, potential benefits for diabetes-associated nerve damage and high blood pressure.
Eating more than 1-2 servings of pistachios a day, every day can, over time, encourage weight gain and related health problems due to the high fat content of the nut kernels. Lastly, it’s a good idea to choose raw, unsalted, unsweetened options over roasted or otherwise cooked, salted, sweetened options. The first have the least effects on blood sugar and are also overall healthier choices.
Pistachios glycemic index and load (low)
The glycemic index (GI) estimates the effects of various foods on blood sugar. Below 55 is a low GI. Between 55-69 is a moderate GI. Between 70-100 is a high GI. Diabetics are advised to choose foods with lower GI values in order to best manage their condition. The glycemic index of pistachios is low, below 55 and estimates put it around 20, similar to cashews and other nuts. The low GI score is owed to the high fiber and high fat content of the kernels.
The glycemic load (GL) estimates how a serving of a certain food affects blood sugar. Below 10 is a low GL. Between 11-19 is a moderate GL. Over 20 is a high GL. Diabetics are better off choosing foods with as low a GL as possible. The glycemic load of pistachios is low, below 10 and estimates put it around 5 (GL score determined for 1 cup of pistachios, or 123 g). The smaller the portion size, the lower the glycemic load which means the less you eat at once, the lesser the effects on blood sugar.
Pistachios and diabetes make a good pair so long as intake is modest, restricted to 1-2 servings a day (1 oz per serving), preferably not every single day. The main benefit of the nut variety for diabetes is the fact that it is a low-glycemic food, meaning it is unlikely it will affect blood sugar too much by causing unhealthy fluctuations. However, considering that nuts in general are important source of fat and calories, it’s best not to indulge in order to avoid weight gain and associated side effects for diabetes.
This post was updated on Wednesday / August 12th, 2020 at 10:28 PM