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Is Pistachio Good or Bad for Diabetes? Glycemic Index, Sugar Content
Diabetes

Is Pistachio Good or Bad for Diabetes? Glycemic Index, Sugar Content

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 August 29
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4 min

Pistachios are a popular snack food, but do they affect blood sugar levels? Learn more about the glycemic index, sugar content, and other potential effects of pistachios.

is pistachio good for diabetes

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Pistachios contain plenty of benefits – they are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and antioxidants.

Healthy fats found in pistachios help maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle by keeping your blood pressure in check, lowering the risk of stroke and many other heart problems.

In addition, it is known to increase the body’s defenses against internal and external free radicals and enhances digestion.

Is Pistachio Good for Diabetes?

If you have diabetes, eating pistachios is safe for you as they help in controlling blood glucose levels. Pistachios are a low glycemic snack and have minimal effects on blood sugar.

Because of their anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic properties, pistachios should be included in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes.

According to the data taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100g of pistachios contain nearly 560 calories and 45.3g of fat. As they are a significant source of calories and fat, it is better to consume them in moderation to prevent weight gain and the related side effects of diabetes.

Excessive consumption may irritate the stomach and lead to diarrhea.

Sweetened or salty pistachios should be avoided due to their high sodium or sugar content.

Pistachio Nutritional Value

Here is the list of nutrients present in 100g of pistachios:

Nutrient (per 100g)Amount 
Fat (g)45.3
Protein (g)20.2
Net carbohydrates (g)16.6
Sugars (g)7.66
Phosphorus (mg)490
Magnesium (mg)121
Iron (mg)3.92
Potassium (mg)1,020
Vitamin B6 (mg)1.72

Pistachios are one of the richest sources of vitamin B6, a crucial nutrient involved in the metabolism of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as over 100 enzymatic activities in your body. In addition, vitamin B6 improves immune system health and blood sugar regulation.

Around 75% of the calories in pistachios come from fat. Pistachios contain 23.3g of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats are the healthiest dietary fats. These fats are generally found in vegetable oils, nuts, plant foods, and avocados.

When consumed in moderation, these fats are beneficial for your health and support healthy blood glucose levels.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests that most of the fats in your diet must come from monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. The LDL cholesterol level (bad cholesterol) is lowered by monounsaturated fats.

Glycemic Index of Pistachios

The glycemic index (GI) calculates how different foods will affect blood sugar levels. Low GI foods score less than 55. A moderate GI is between 55 and 69. A high GI is between 70 and 100.

Pistachios’ glycemic index is 15, so they have a very low glycemic index because of their high dietary fiber content.

To effectively help control blood glucose levels, people with diabetes are recommended to eat foods with lower GI scores.

What Are the Benefits of Pistachios for Diabetes?

Pistachios are high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, vitamins, and good fats. These nuts have various health benefits that make them an excellent addition to any diabetes diet. The following are the health benefits of pistachio:

#1 Helps to lower blood sugar levels

A study shows that pistachios can improve a person’s metabolic profile, reverse some of the harmful effects of prediabetes on the body’s metabolism, and lower blood sugar and insulin levels.

Pistachios included in a carbohydrate-rich meal containing potatoes, rice, and pasta, help reduce relative blood sugar response.

#2 Lowers LDL cholesterol

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), diabetes frequently lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels while elevating triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. These two factors raise the chance of developing heart disease and stroke.

According to one study, people who consumed pistachios as 20% of their daily calorie intake had higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), a lower ratio of total cholesterol (TC)/HDL, and a lower level of LDL cholesterol.

These findings imply that pistachios may be helpful in the treatment and prevention of coronary artery disease.

#3 Promotes weight loss

Pistachios support a good eating pattern and weight loss. They may also provide additional health benefits, such as a decrease in diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

Regular consumption of pistachios helps increase the dietary fiber intake, decrease the consumption of sweets, and give a more favorable ratio of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids.

Fiber also helps keep your blood sugars more stable and is good for digestion.

#4 Helps pregnant women manage gestational diabetes mellitus

In gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), a hormone produced by the placenta interferes with the body’s ability to use insulin properly. Glucose does not enter cells but rather accumulates in the blood.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, gestational diabetes is not brought on by a deficiency in insulin but rather by other hormones produced throughout pregnancy that may reduce the effectiveness of insulin, a condition known as insulin resistance.

A study published in 2017 shows that eating pistachios may assist pregnant women with gestational diabetes in managing their blood sugar levels after meals.

FAQs

Do pistachios have a low glycemic index?

Yes, pistachios have a low glycemic index. They have a GI score of 15. This implies that, unlike other high-carb snacks, they won’t result in a surge in blood sugar levels.

Are pistachios good for type 2 diabetes?

Yes, pistachios are good for people with type 2 diabetes. Adding them to a healthy diet helps decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Pistachio consumption daily has been shown to improve cardiometabolic health risks in people with well-controlled type 2 diabetes.

How often is it recommended to eat pistachios for diabetes?

Consuming two ounces (56.66g) of nuts daily as a replacement for carbohydrate foods is said to improve glycemic control in type 2 diabetes.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

An ordinary adverse effect of eating too many pistachios is digestive issues. They contain a lot of calories. This indicates that when they are processed in the body, they generate a lot of heat.

Fructan, a substance found in pistachios, can cause bloating and digestive issues if consumed in excess. Additionally, it is advisable to drink enough water because it may help with digestion.

Although pistachios are regarded as a delightful snack, exceeding the daily recommended amount will cause weight gain. Also, salted pistachios should be avoided as they may increase hypertension and cardiovascular risk factors.

Conclusion

Pistachios can be great for anyone who wants to have snacks with a lower glycemic index. This is the best alternative snack to have instead of other high-GI snacks such as bread or fries.

The nutritional profile of pistachios is truly impressive, from the low-fat content to the numerous fiber and protein contents. 

They also have a relatively low glycemic index. These factors combine to produce a delicious and healthy snack for people who have diabetes and want to stay in control of their diet.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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