“Gestational diabetes is a unique form of diabetes that presents itself during pregnancy, and if a woman has gestational diabetes it increases her risk of diabetes in the future, and it also has a trans-generational effect on diabetes risk for the fetus, and then subsequent generations,” Mike Roussell, a nutrition consultant, told FoodNavigator-USA at FNCE.
In addition, he said, gestational diabetes has a 10% prevalence in the US – which combined with its negative health impact underscore a significant need for dietary management solutions.
One such solution, could be pistachios, according to the results of a preliminary study of 30 pregnant women with gestational diabetes in China.
The study found that when the women consumed a third of a cup of pistachios for breakfast their blood sugar levels were significantly lower than they were after consuming two slices of whole wheat bread, said Zhaoping Li, the director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition and one of the lead researchers.
She added that the impact on insulin levels was even more dramatic.
“The insulin goes up as expected after you consume whole wheat bread, but it does not go up after you consumer the same calories of pistachios,” she told FoodNavigator-USA.
This means that pregnant women who are challenged with sugar control now have another natural food options, she added.
Roussell agreed, adding, “I think the unique marketing aspect of this study, and what it does is it really opens up a whole new area or a whole new channel” for pistachios.
“One of the unique things about the study is when a woman is pregnant, she needs to fuel herself. She has an increased need for calories to help fuel that baby. But this study really points out that there is a specific way that you need to fuel yourself to have a healthy baby and a healthy pregnancy,” he said. “It shows pistachios provide that unique snack for this unique population, and I think that really opens the doors for really talking to the consumer where they are.”
Looking forward, Li says additional research should be done on women of different ethnicities to more effectively generalize the findings. She also wants to study the impact pistachios on the diet of people who choose to snack on them throughout the day versus those who do not.