How This Healthy Snack Could Help Fight Diabetes

Diabetes is an epidemic that many Americans face today, most without even knowing they are prediabetic. However, there are steps you can take if you’ve fallen victim to this precursor. Like pistachios? Well, good news: Munching on them could yield a positive result for people with prediabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, before people get Type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes — blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to mean diabetes. Prediabetes affects more than 86 million adults in the U.S., and without treatment, 15 to 30% of people with prediabetes will get diabetes within just five years.

According to the American Pistachio Growers, here are three reasons to start munching on pistachios.

1. Pistachios may have glucose and insulin lowering effects for prediabetics

A 2014 study published in Diabetes Care found that when pistachios were consumed in a balanced diet, lower glucose and insulin levels helped promote a healthier metabolic profile.

2. Pistachios may help significantly lower small LDL particles

Not all LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is created equal. Some particles are large and buoyant and pass easily through the circulatory system. The particles that are small and dense are four times as likely to cause heart disease. This is noteworthy since those with prediabetes have a one and a half times greater risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. The result of this research suggests that the concentration of small LDL cholesterol particles was significantly lowered in the pistachio diet group.

3. Pistachios offer unique nutrition attributes for a diabetes-friendly diet

Clinical studies have provided a body of scientific evidence on the cardio-protective effects of nuts. Compared to other nuts, pistachios have lower fat and energy content, and higher levels of fiber (both soluble and insoluble), potassium, phytosterols, y-tocopherol, vitamin K, xanthophyll, and carotenoids.

Interested in testing the pistachio waters? Try these three pistachio-based recipes, which are courtesy of American Pistachio Growers.

1. Pistachio Pesto

American Pistachio Growers

Source: American Pistachio Growers

This recipe is by Chef Cheryl Forberg and makes about 2 cups of pesto.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups (6½ ounces) roasted, unsalted pistachio kernels
  • ½ cup grapeseed (or olive) oil
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • ½ cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon smoked salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions: In the bowl of a food processor, chop the pistachios. Add the oil, basil, and garlic, and pulse until the mixture is somewhat smooth but slightly chunky. Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Add cheese, salt, and pepper, and transfer to covered container. Refrigerate.

2. Pistachio Pie

American Pistachio Growers

Source: American Pistachio Growers

This recipe is by Chef Lauren Mitterer and makes 1 (9-inch) pie.

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 1⅓ cups roasted, unsalted pistachio kernels
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 ounces (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • ¼ cup roasted, unsalted pistachio kernels coarsely chopped by hand, set aside

For the crust:

  • ¼ cup very cold water
  • 1⅓ cups flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon sugar
  • 2¾ ounces shortening, cubed and very cold
  • 1½ ounces unsalted butter, cubed and very cold

Directions: For the pie crust: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine ingredients in the order they are listed, starting with water in the bowl. Using a paddle attachment, mix until all ingredients are combined and a nice dough has been formed. Remove dough from the mixer, wrap in clear plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Once chilled, roll on a well-floured surface into a circle for a 9-inch pie pan.

For the filling: Pulse the pistachios in a food processor until very coarsely chopped (some of the pistachio will be mealy and the remainder will be coarse). Turn pistachios in a mixing bowl, add all other ingredients, and combine with a spatula until fully incorporated.

Fill an unbaked pie shell with the pistachio mixture, smooth the top with a spatula, and bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes on a lower rack in the over, sprinkling the remaining pistachios on top about ⅔ through the baking process. Test for doneness by inserting a clean knife or toothpick in the center — it should come out clean, and the filling should not jiggle. The top will be deep golden. If the crust begins to brown before the pie filling is set, cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake until done. Serve slightly warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

3. American Pistachio Salad Dressing

Spinach_Salad_with_Smoked_Turkey_and_Pistachios-APG_2068-Edit

Source: American Pistachio Growers

This recipe is by the American Pistachio Growers and makes 48 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces chopped, toasted American pistachios
  • 4 ounces sugar
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, blanched, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 64 ounces olive oil blend

Directions: Combine and mix all seasoning ingredients into lime juice. Beat oil in gradually, until blended. Cover, and refrigerate. Mix well before serving.

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