Background/objective: Nut consumption has been found to decrease risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes and to promote healthy body weights possibly related to their favorable macronutrient profile. We therefore assessed the effect of pistachios on postprandial glucose and insulin levels, gut hormones related to satiety and endothelial function.
Subjects/methods: In this randomized crossover study, 20 subjects with metabolic syndrome consumed five study meals over 5-10 weeks. The meals differed in fat type and quantity, but were matched according to available carbohydrates (CHOs). Three meals had 50 g available CHO: white bread (WB50g), white bread, butter and cheese (WB+B+Ch) and white bread and pistachios (WB+P). Two meals had 12 g available CHO: white bread (WB12g) and pistachios (P).
Results: Within each group of available CHO meals, postprandial glucose levels were the highest following the white bread-only meals, and glucose response was significantly attenuated when butter and cheese or pistachios were consumed (P<0.05). Postprandial insulin levels were highest after the WB+B+Ch meal (P<0.05), but did not differ between the white bread-only and pistachio meals. Both endothelial function (reactive hyperemia index) and arterial stiffness (augmentation index) significantly increased after the white bread-only meals compared with the WB+B+Ch meal (all P<0.05). Insulin secretagogue levels were higher when butter and cheese or pistachios were consumed than when white bread only was consumed (P<0.05).
Conclusions: Compared with white bread, pistachio consumption reduced postprandial glycemia, increased glucagon-like-peptide levels and may have insulin-sparing properties. These effects could be beneficial for individuals with diabetes and metabolic syndrome.