Almond Milk and Diabetes
Almond Milk in a Diabetes Diet
Looking for a healthy substitute for cow's milk or soy?
Diabetics in particular should consider almond milk. You can buy or make the drink yourself with ground almonds and water. Add non-calorie sweetener, if you like.
In addition to the variety of benefits in a diabetes diet, almond milk is dairy-free and vegan. It is also an excellent replacement for those that are lactose-intolerant.
Like regular milk, it contains protein, calcium and Vitamin D. When you purchase or make unsweetened almond milk, the total calories for an 8 ounce (1 cup) serving is less than half that of skim milk (40 calories vs. 90 calories). It also has about 1/6th the number of carbohydrate grams (2 grams vs. 13 grams).
Almond milk in a diabetes diet can help you lose or maintain weight, and may potentially prevent dangerous rises in blood sugar levels. This is due to its lower carbohydrate count and reduced calories compared to regular milk.
You can make almond milk by straining water through crushed almonds, to create a milky, nut-flavored liquid (directions below). People enjoy almond milk as a beverage and/or as a substitute for milk in recipes.
Almonds and Diabetes
Did you know that consumption of almonds can improve your diabetes health?
Medical studies have shown that consuming one ounce (approximately 10-12 almonds) before a meal may result in 30% lower blood glucose levels thereafter in diabetics, compared with 7% lower sugar levels for non-diabetics.
Over time, the benefits of almonds on diabetics are worth noting.
People with Type 2 diabetes who had one ounce of almonds daily over a 12-week period experienced a 4% reduction in the three-month measure of average blood glucose levels known as hemoglobin A1c.* This means that an A1c of 7% could be lowered to a healthier 6.7% in just three months, simply by eating almonds!
Consuming almond milk in place of regular or soy milk at least once per day can result in better health, including weight loss and lower overall blood sugar levels.
Even those without diabetes can benefit from enjoying almonds.
Approximately 20 million people in the U.S. are expected to have either prediabetes or full-blown Type 2 diabetes by 2020. However, eating almonds or drinking almond milk daily can improve insulin sensitivity and lower LDL-cholesterol (bad cholestorol) if you have prediabetes. In other words, incorporating almonds into your diet may help stave off diabetes in the first place!
Almonds are heart-healthy, nutritious, aid in disease management, and lower the risk of certain chronic diseases including, but not limited to, diabetes.
*Those without diabetes usually have an A1c of less than 5%. Diabetics are advised to keep their A1c's lower than 7%.
Almond Milk Compared to Skim Milk (8 oz./1 cup serving)
Almond Milk (Unsweetened)
Almond Milk (Sweetened)
How to Make Homemade Almond Milk
Tips for Choosing the Best Almond Milk for Diabetes
Not all almond milk is created the same!
If you have diabetes, be sure to read labels to ensure that the product you are buying is sugar free. Almond milk can be a healthy substitute for dairy products, or even soy milk. Just make sure that it does not include added sugar and carbohydrates, which can undermine a diabetic diet and cause high blood sugar readings.
The easiest tip for diabetics and others watching their calorie and carb count is to purchase unflavored almond milk. There are a number of brands available at stores. If you do not find it in the dairy/milk aisle, there are a number of brands of boxed almond milk that are vacuum sealed so they can be kept on the shelf for a long period of time. Consider buying in bulk on Amazon.com or BuyTheCase.net.
Non-refrigerated almond milk is safe for consumption until opened. Thereafter, store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Stores like Whole Foods, often stock specialty almond milk in their dairy section. While it often contains fewer preservatives, it costs substantially more.
If you want to ensure that you have the healthiest almond milk possible, make your own. All you need are plain, unseasoned almonds, water and a food processor or blender. Many people like to flavor their almond milk, with non-caloric sweetener, or sugar-free syrups.
Don't forget that you can use almond milk in place of cow's milk in recipes. This tip can help reduce the overall calorie and carbohydrate count.
Almonds and Diabetes
Differences between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
While I have Type 1 diabetes, the more prevalent disease is Type 2.
Among diabetics, only 10% have Type 1 (also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes). The vast majority of diabetics have Type 2, or "adult onset" diabetes, although even children may be diagnosed with this disease.
The two conditions both involve higher than normal blood sugar levels. But the causes are distinct. Type 1 diabetes results from an auto-immune reaction; the body erroneously attacks the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, killing them and resulting in the patient becoming dependent on external shots.
On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes may develop due to heredity, an inability of the pancreas to make adequate insulin, or a deficiency in cellular ability to uptake insulin for energy. Losing weight and eating a healthier diet may reverse Type 2 for a period of time.
However, most medical professionals will tell you that, as you age, even physically fit seniors may have to take more aggressive measures to treat the disease. This may include oral medication, or even insulin, in addition to a healthy diet and exercise.
Why Consider Almond Milk for Diabetes?
Almond milk is an excellent replacement in a diabetic's diet.
Compared to skim milk, it is significantly lower in calories and carbohydrates per serving. Over time, enjoying unsweetened almond milk as a substitute can result in weight loss, healthier blood glucose levels, and lower A1c results.
Everyone can benefit from enjoying almond milk! Not only is it non-dairy, which may assist those that are lactose-intolerant, its also vegan/vegetarian. Almonds provide healthy amounts of a person's daily requirements of vitamin E, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium.
Because they primarily contain monounsaturated fat, you may also be able to reduce your heart disease risk by eating almonds or drinking almond milk.
Almond milk is rich and delicious, whether sweetened or unsweetened. Consuming almond milk may help you enjoy the health benefits of almonds, without having to eat them directly.
For me, I enjoy almond milk because I often cannot limit myself to only one serving of raw almonds. As a diabetic, I can enjoy their health benefits in my morning coffee or blended into a healthy smoothie. That way, I don't overindulge in the healthy snack!
Be sure to check labels before adding almond milk to your diabetes diet. If you are replacing regular milk, there will be fewer carbohydrates, so you may need to adjust medication accordingly. Also ensure that you follow suggested serving sizes so that you can most accurately predict the impact of almond milk on your blood glucose levels.
© 2012 Stephanie Hicks