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Pistachios Associated with an Improved Metabolic Risk Profile in Prediabetes

In a study, patients who consumed pistachios showed improvement in fasting glucose, insulin, and HOMA of insulin resistance….

Spanish researchers examined whether a diet rich in pistachios could be beneficial in delaying prediabetes onset and promoting a healthier metabolic profile in patients with prediabetes.

A randomized clinical trial was held from September 20, 2011 to February 4, 2013 in which 54 patients with prediabetes consumed two diets, a pistachio-supplemented diet (PD) and a control diet (CD), for 4 months each in a crossover manner. The two study periods were separated by a 2-week washout period, and the diets were isocaloric and matched for protein, fiber, and saturated fatty acids. In the CD, 55% of the total calories came from carbohydrates and 30% from fat, while 50% of the total calories came from carbohydrates and 35% from fat in the PD, which included the consumption of 57 g of pistachios per day.

When compared with the CD, fasting glucose, insulin, and HOMA of insulin resistance were significantly reduced after the PD. Although glucagon-like peptide-1 was increased under the PD, fibrinogen, oxidized LDL, platelet factor 4, and other cardiometabolic risk markers decreased significantly in comparison with the CD (p <0.05). After the pistachio intervention, interleukin-6 mRNA decreased by 9% and resistin gene expression also decreased by 6% in lymphocytes (p <0.05, for PD vs. CD). Additionally, during the PD, cellular glucose uptake by lymphocytes was reduced by 78.78% (p=0.01, for PD vs. CD). SLC2A4 expression increased by 69% in the CD (p=0.03, for PD vs. CD).
The researchers concluded that this data showed that pistachios lowered glucose and insulin.

Practice Pearls:

  • Although GLP-1 was increased after the PD, fasting glucose, insulin, HOMA of insulin resistance, interleukin-6 mRNA and resistin gene expression in lymphocytes, cellular glucose uptake by lymphocytes, and other cardiometabolic risk markers such as fibrinogen, oxidized LDL, and platelet factor 4 were reduced in patients with prediabetes when compared to the CD.
  • Also in the CD, SLC2A4 expression increased.
  • Pistachios promoted a healthier metabolic profile and reversed certain metabolic deleterious consequences of prediabetes.

Hernández-Alonso P, Salas-Salvadó J, Baldrich-Mora M, Juanola-Falgarona M, Bulló M. Beneficial Effect of Pistachio Consumption on Glucose Metabolism, Insulin Resistance, Inflammation, and Related Metabolic Risk Markers: a Randomized Clinical Trial. Diabetes Care. 2014 Aug 14; pii: DC_141431 [Epub ahead of print].