Eating almonds could help prevent diabetes and heart disease, according to a study.
The research found incorporating the nuts into our diets may help treat type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90%-95% of all cases.
As well as combating the condition, linked to obesity and physical inactivity, it could tackle cardiovascular disease, the report published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition said.
Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in the world, and sufferers have a shortage of insulin or a decreased ability to use the hormone that allows glucose (sugar) to enter cells and be converted to energy.
When diabetes is not controlled, glucose and fats remain in the blood and over time, damage vital organs.
The study found consuming a diet rich in almonds may help improve insulin sensitivity and decrease LDL-cholesterol levels in those with prediabetes, a condition in which people have blood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
Researchers looked at the effects of consuming an almond-enriched diet on 65 adults with prediabetes (48 women and 17 men) with an average age in the mid-50s.
The participants were split up, and the group on the almond-enriched diet showed greater improvements in insulin sensitivity and clinically significant reductions in LDL-cholesterol compared with the nut-free group.
Dr Michelle Wien, assistant research professor in nutrition at Loma Linda University's School of Public Health, said: "We have made great strides in chronic disease research from evidence of effective treatment to evidence of effective prevention."
The principal researcher for the study, conducted at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, added: "It is promising for those with risk factors for chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease that dietary changes may help to improve factors that play a potential role in the disease development."
An estimated 55 million people in Europe have been diagnosed with diabetes, and the figure is expected to rise to 66 million by 2030.
There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes, which may be autoimmune, genetic, or environmental. It accounts for 5% of all cases. Type 2 diabetes most often occurs in people older than 40.
Around 60 million people in Europe have prediabetes. People with the condition have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
Almonds are cholesterol free and compared with other nuts, they are the highest in six essential nutrients - fibre, magnesium, protein, potassium, copper and vitamin E.
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