My eight years as Chief Dietitian to Diabetes UK has always given me a soft spot for supporting World Diabetes Day. There are an estimated 4.5 million people with diabetes in the UK, and research suggests that lifestyle changes, including being more physically active, managing your weight and eating a varied healthy diet, are crucial to help manage type 2 diabetes (T2D), and can even significantly reduce the risk of developing T2D.

People with diabetes are more prone to heart disease, and yesterday, I moderated a professional RDUK twitter chat on #CholesterolTips and heart disease, supported by the Almond Board of California (I like to call them ABC!). We had lots of engaging conversations about coconut oil, eggs, almonds, and the latest research on diet and cardiovascular disease.

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South Asians and Diabetes Risk

People of South Asian origin are genetically more predisposed to non-communicable diseases like T2D and heart disease. A study of 50 Asian Indians with type 2 diabetes and elevated cholesterol levels found that substituting whole, raw almonds – already a familiar food in the Indian culture – for 20% of calories in a well-balanced diet significantly improved measures of heart health that are linked to type 2 diabetes, including:

  • Waist circumference: an indicator of health risk associated with excess fat around the waist
  • Waist-to-height ratio: a measure of body fat distribution
  • Total cholesterol: a measure of the amount of cholesterol in the blood
  • Triglycerides: a form of fat in the blood that can raise risk for heart disease
  • LDL cholesterol: the bad type of cholesterol that is a main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries
  • C-reactive protein: a measure of inflammation in the body
  • Haemoglobin A1c: a measure of average blood sugar levels over a two to three month span

Check out my articles on B is for Badaam (almonds) and Managing Diabetes for South Asians on The Ismaili Nutrition Centre, a non-commercial evidence-based online resource.

What’s in your handful (28g) of almonds?

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And you don’t need scales – check out these handy ways to get your handful!

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This is an honest blogpost written with the help of The Almond Board of California.