Bright, shiny bags, boxed assortments and multi-flavor variety packs of salty, chewy and crunchy foods often line the snack aisle you may wander down. Finding the right snack to complement your healthy lifestyle may seem daunting, whether seeking to manage your weight, lower your blood pressure or target healthy blood sugar levels. If your goal is the latter, you may be one of the 37 million Americans with diabetes or the 96 million with prediabetes, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Aldi, a popular grocery chain, offers an emporium of snack delights for your choosing. And if you have diabetes or prediabetes, you can find nutritious snacks to support your wellness goals. Yet, not only are there many options, but snack packaging can make misleading claims. “It’s important to know how to read between the lines when it comes to nutrition labels. For example, just because a product is “all-natural,” “gluten-free” or “vegan” doesn’t mean it’s suitable as a healthy snack for diabetes,” says Jenna Volpe, RDN, LD, CLT

While some products may seem like healthy choices, they could still lack essential nutrients for blood sugar management or contain lots of added sugars or saturated fats. But don’t lose heart. You, too, can outsmart the snack racks and learn everything there is to know to select diabetes-friendly snacks and what to bring home on your next Aldi store run. 

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What to Look For in a Blood Sugar-Friendly Snack

Trust this tidbit Volpe shares on choosing between-meal fare. “The key is to lean on snacks that are more nutrient-dense and nutritionally balanced, offering energy and sustenance from a balance of carbs, fats, proteins and fiber,” she says. Katie Schimmelpfenning, RD, agrees and notes that snacking at the right time is also important: “Eating more regular and consistent meals and snacks promotes weight management and allows for increased mindfulness and enjoyment of food.”

Contains Healthy Fats

While fat contributes to snack flavor and enjoyment, it also helps keep blood sugars stable. According to a 2020 review published in Nutrients, fat and protein enhance post-meal blood glucose levels and aid insulin production, helping your body maintain steady blood sugar levels. “Fats and protein take longer to break down, so they will help to buffer the rate at which carbs get converted into blood sugar. The result is a slow, steady rise in blood sugar (and energy) versus just a quick spike and crash in blood sugar which happens from eating carbs alone,” says Volpe.

Given that there are many types of fats, the American Diabetes Association encourages eating heart-healthy fat sources, like nuts, avocados, peanut butter, omega-3 fatty fish, chia seeds and flaxseeds and limiting saturated (solid fats) and trans fats from processed foods and animal products. Note that the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of artificial trans fats, but you could still find small traces.

Packs Plenty of Protein

Along with fat, protein is another macronutrient that helps prevent blood sugar spikes. Protein from food activates incretins, hormones that tell the pancreas to make insulin, the blood-sugar-lowering hormone. Incretins also lower blood sugar levels by promoting slow gastric emptying, per a 2022 review published in Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, “Protein also helps you feel fuller longer and not feel so “snacky” between meals,” says Amy Beney, M.S., RD, CDCES.

Delivers Enough Fiber

“Foods that contain fiber are great to help prevent blood sugar spikes,” says Beney.  Fiber, a carbohydrate in plant foods, not only helps relieve constipation but can help control your blood sugar, per the CDC. Ready to nosh on more fiber-filled morsels? Before you pop open that snack bag, ensure the nutrition label shows at least 3 grams of fiber per serving to help you reach your fiber goals and stabilize your blood sugars. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults aim for a daily fiber intake of 25 to 38 grams.

Limits the Added Sugar

“Added sugar gives foods a delightful sweetness but can also raise blood sugar quickly,” says Beney. And regularly eating too much added sugar may increase type 2 diabetes prevalence, while a lower intake could reduce risks, per a 2022 review published in Missouri Medicine. “If [added sugar] foods are not paired with some type of protein or healthy fat, it can leave you with high blood sugar soon after you eat and hungry in a short amount of time,” says Beney. 

So, when you’re perusing the snack aisle, flip over the package and find the added sugar amounts in grams per serving. While it helps to choose snacks with little to no added sugar, a good rule of thumb is sticking to the American Heart Association’s recommendations—less than 25 daily grams for women and 36 grams for men. Your personal added-sugar goals may look different if you have diabetes or prediabetes, so seek the help of a physician or dietitian for the right recommendation for you.

The Best Snack at Aldi for Better Blood Sugar

Now that you know how to choose the best blood-sugar-friendly bites for better blood sugar management, you can confidently find snacks at almost any grocery retailer. But before you grab your reusable bags, we’re ready to debut the top snack pick at Aldi: Simply Nature Raw Almonds, Pecans and Pistachio Kernels.

“Aldi’s Simply Nature Raw Almonds, Pecans and Pistachio Kernels are a great snack because they contain protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. This is a great mix that tastes delicious, keeps your taste buds interested and helps manage your blood sugar,” says Beney.

Every quarter-cup of the nut medley has 5 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 6% of your Daily Value of iron. You won’t find any added sugars or sodium here, just pure, raw tree nuts. Here’s how they may help better your blood sugars.

Might Lower After-Meal Blood Sugar Levels

Steady blood sugar levels are the primary treatment goal of managing diabetes, and enjoying nuts may help. According to a 2023 article in Nutrients, eating a diverse mix of nuts–including almonds and pistachios—may lower your post-meal blood sugar levels, also known as postprandial blood glucose levels. Further, nuts paired with a high-glycemic-index food (one prone to rapidly raising blood sugars), also had a more beneficial postprandial response than when eating a high-GI food alone. In other words, if you eat a banana with nuts, your blood sugars may not spike as high as they would if you ate it alone. Nuts are low in carbohydrates but rich in fiber, which may be responsible for this response. 

May Reduce A1C

If you live with diabetes or prediabetes, your doctor may routinely check your A1C, which reveals your blood sugar levels over three months. And one of this snack’s ingredients has been shown to benefit this blood-sugar indicator. In a 2021 review published in Nutrients, researchers saw favorable effects of almonds in lowering A1C due to their phytonutrients, fiber and heart-healthy fats.

Might Decrease LDL Cholesterol Levels

Our winning Aldi snack contains pecans, a heart-healthy nut known for its buttery flavor and crispy texture. Because diabetes and heart health are so closely connected, opting for snacks rich in healthy fats is critical in diabetes. When your blood sugar isn’t correctly managed, it can damage your arteries, nerves and blood vessels—all of which play critical roles in normal heart function. According to a 2021 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, eating pecans may significantly reduce LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and fasting total cholesterol levels.

The Bottom Line

“I like to think of balancing blood sugars as waves in the ocean. We want steady, even waves of ups and downs without the intense peaks and abrupt crashes. To establish these gentle rolling waves, we encourage balancing nutrients like proteins, fats and carbs together during meals and snacks, says Jessi Holden, M.S., RDN. And Aldi’s Simply Nature Raw Almonds, Pecans and Pistachio Kernels fit the bill. Whether you add them to a yogurt parfait, toss them over a green salad or enjoy them alone, eating nuts daily can help you manage your blood sugar. 

Related: The #1 Nutrient to Lower Blood Sugar Levels, According to a Diabetes Expert

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