The Best Nut for Your Blood Sugar...and BMI

(During Diabetes Awareness Month, we'll be sharing lots of diabetes-healing tips and tricks from our website, Here's the first installment.)

Crunch your way health by snacking on nuts! Research shows that all nuts have powerful diabetes healing properties. But the almond is particularly turbo-charged.

Almonds can curb the surge and dive of glucose after people eat meals of refined carbs. They also improve insulin sensitivity, all the while melting away fat.

1. Almonds soften blood sugar spikes. Refined carbs like those found in white bread are deadly for diabetics, because they set off a spike and crash in blood sugar levels. That creates ravenous hunger for more carbs, which continue the spike/crash pattern. But research published in Metabolism shows that almonds helped lower blood sugar levels even when people ate refined carbs like white bread. The more almonds people ate, the less their blood sugar bounced up and down.

Before you run to Subway for a sandwich, please note that it took about three ounces of almonds (more than 60 nuts!) to cut glucose levels in half. So we don't suggest that you repeat this experiment at home . . . the white bread spike is simply too huge. But other healthy foods like fruits are a great match for almonds' glucose-controlling ways.

2. Almonds crack insulin sensitivity. When cells are overwhelmed with glucose, those cells start to shut out insulin when it tries to deliver more glucose. So it takes more insulin to push glucose into cells. This is known as insulin resistance. But according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, almonds improve insulin sensitivity. In other words, the almond encourages cells to answer the door more quickly when insulin knocks. This means you don't need as much insulin to get the job done. And that gives your pancreas a much needed break.

In the study, scientists split 65 pre-diabetic adults into two groups. A control group was given a healthy, low-carbohydrate diet without nuts. The intervention group had the same diet with 20 percent total calories from almonds.

When tested, blood analysis determined that the group with almonds in their diet had much better insulin levels as well as improved markers for beta cell function and insulin resistance. The authors of the study determined that almonds, with their unsaturated fats and high fiber content, "help prevent the development of Type II diabetes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease."

3. Munch Almonds to Melt Away Fat. Everyone knows that almonds are high in calories, so they must cause weight gain. Right? Not so fast. Several studies have shown that nuts help people lose weight. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that those who ate almonds as part of a low-calorie diet for 6 months were able to reduce their weight by 11% and their waistlines by 9%. In addition, 96% of those in the study who had type 1 (juvenile) diabetes were able to reduce their need for diabetes medication. In a similar Spanish study involving 8,865 adults, those who ate nuts at least twice a week were 31% less likely to gain weight than those who seldom ate nuts.

So go ahead and indulge, especially when it comes to almonds. Other nuts go rancid fairly quickly. That's a problem, because rancid nut fats are harmful, not healing. (Any nut meat is rancid if it is yellow or tan instead of white.) Almonds stay fresh longer, and you can extend the life of any nut by refrigerating it.

It's best to soak almonds before you eat them. They'll be so much softer, yet still retain a satisfying crunch. If If the almonds are raw, they will beginto sprout during soaking, which will jack up their nutrition levels.

To soak almonds, fill a jar half full of nuts, fill it to the top with cold water, and let it soak for 12 - 24 hours in the fridge. Drain and rinse after a couple hours, fill it up again, and enjoy once they've plumped up and lost their wrinkled look.

Check out our nutty diabetes-healing recipes at , including Broccoli Spring Rolls with Almond Dipping Sauce.

PS: To mark Diabetes Awareness Month, we've organized 30 Days of Giveaways at We're giving away 30+ amazing diabetes-healing prizes worth over $1,000, including a SodaStream machine, $275 of 360Cookware and so much more! You can enter any and all of the 30 giveaways up until midnight on November 30th. A new giveaway airs each day!