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Is Nut Milk Good for Prediabetes?

April 8, 2022
Is Nut Milk Good for Prediabetes? - Lark Health

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In this article:

  • Nuts can be good for health and weight loss, but is nut milk good for prediabetes, too?
  • Nut milk has a low glycemic index
  • The best nut milk for prediabetes is unsweetened. You might also check for calcium and other nutrients.
  • Nut milk can be part of a healthy diet. You can use it to reduce calories compared to drinking regular milk.
  • Lark can help you choose better foods for prediabetes and make other healthy choices to lower the risk for type 2 diabetes.

Nuts are part of a good diet to prevent diabetes, but what about nut milks, such as almond, cashew, and coconut? Do they have the benefits that nuts do, and are they good swaps for cow's milk? Here's what you should know about nut milk and prediabetes, including the glycemic index of nut milk.

What Is Nut Milk?

Before talking about nut milk and prediabetes, let's talk about what nut milk is! To make milks such as almond or cashew milk, manufacturers soak the nuts in water, grind them up, and strain the mixture. 

Coconuts aren't nuts nutritionally, but coconut milk for drinking may be made similarly to other nut milk. Creamy coconut milk for cooking, which often comes in a can, has a higher content of coconut, not to mention calories and fat.

Nut Milk versus Nuts for Prediabetes

Nuts are good for prediabetes, according to studies such as those published in AJCNand JAMA. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that most adults should eat 4 to 5 servings per week of nuts and seeds. That works out to about 1/2 to 1 ounce of foods such as nuts, nut butters, peanuts, peanut butter, and seeds most days of the week. 

But nut milk doesn't have a lot of nuts in it. Each cup of almond milk may have, for example, about 4 almonds, or about one-sixth of an ounce. There isn't much fiber or protein in nut milk. It may not have the same effects on health and weight as higher amounts of nuts have. 

Prediabetes and Nut Milk versus Cow's Milk

Plant-based foods have many benefits. For example, they're naturally cholesterol-free. They are often lower in unhealthy fats, and they may have nutritious phytonutrients. And nut milks can be especially welcome if you are avoiding cow's milk because you're lactose intolerant, but you want to drink some type of milk-like beverage.

However, if you're not lactose intolerant, it may not be time to drop cow's milk if your goal is to prevent prediabetes. A review article in Food and Nutrition Research says that people who include dairy products may have a lower risk of developing diabetes.

Nut Milk and Weight Loss

Reducing the number of calories you consume can help you lose weight. That is a way that nut milk and a prediabetes diet can go hand in hand. Nut milk can help you decrease calorie intake if you choose it instead of higher-calorie items, such as cream, cow's milk, or soy milk. These are some ideas for using nut milk to reduce calories.

  • In coffee instead of cow's milk or cream.
  • In cream of asparagus, chicken, or tomato soup instead of cream or milk.
  • As a beverage or in cereal instead of cow's milk.

Glycemic Index of Nut Milk

Another aspect of nut milk and prediabetes is the glycemic index (GI) of nut milk. The GI of a food describes how much a serving of that food spikes your blood sugar levels. A lower GI diet is better for prediabetes. So what is the GI of nut milk?

The GI of nut milks varies. In a study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, researchers tested the GI of different brands. Nut milks had a relatively low GI, but higher than the GI of cow's milk. Sweetened nut milks have a higher GI than unsweetened nut milks. Rice milk has an even higher GI.

Best Nut Milks for Preventing Diabetes

These are some tips for the best nut milk for prediabetes.

  • Unsweetened varieties have no added sugars. They are healthier and their glycemic index is lower than sweetened nut milk. 
  • Sweetened nut milk can have 7 to 19 grams of added sugar per cup. That's the amount in 1 to 2 fun-size candy bars!
  • Some nut milks are fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin E. 
  • The The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology says nut milks with vitamin B12 can help supplement nutrient intake on plant-based diets.

Research published in Nutrientscompares nutrients in cow's milk versus plant-based milks. Cow's milk is higher in protein than are nut milks such as cashew milk and almond milk. 

Using Nut Milk with Prediabetes

Nut milk can help you lose weight if you use it to reduce your calorie intake. Each cup of unsweetened nut milk has about 25 to 40 calories. A cup of cow's milk has 80 to 160 calories. The The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology says you can take in fewer calories by swapping unsweetened nut milk for cow's milk.

You can also have nut milk with other healthy foods. These are some examples.

  • With an unsweetened whole-grain cereal, such as Cheerios or bran flakes.
  • In soup to make it creamier, such as creamy tomato soup or creamy squash soup.
  • In dips and sauces.
  • In coffee and tea instead of creamer.

Nut milk can be a healthy part of a diet to prevent diabetes.

Losing weight and eating well can have big returns. They can boost health, energy, and confidence. And they can be part of your daily routine. You can even eat your favorite foods and lose weight.

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