In addition to being delicious and versatile little nuts, there’s evidence to suggest almonds support heart health, gut health, satiety management and even skin health. These potential benefits are likely due to the vast array of nutrients found in almonds, including mono-and polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein, vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients, as well as their fibre content.
Here are four great reasons to make almonds a regular part of your diet:
1. Heart Health
Several studies have found that including almonds as part of an overall healthy diet can help support normal blood lipid levels and may have benefits for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, vascular function and other factors in heart health.
Eating 10-100 grams of these tasty nuts a day has been shown to keep undesirable low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in check while raising beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Given that more than half of people with coronary artery disease (CAD) have low HDL levels even if they are successfully managing their LDL levels, almonds could make a great addition to a daily diet for heart health.
In one trial, people with CAD who had low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (40 mg/dL in men or 50 mg/dL in women), had a 14-16% increase in HDL cholesterol after 12 weeks of supplementation with 10 grams of almonds a day before breakfast. These people also had reductions in total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol; total-to-HDL and LDL-to-HDL cholesterol ratios, and the atherogenic index by the end of the 12-week study.
In another trial, men aged 20-70 who ate 50 grams of almonds a day for four weeks had significant reductions in systolic blood pressure and improvements in blood flow.
In the STALL (Statins and almonds to lower lipoproteins) study, 100 grams of almonds daily for four weeks, in addition to a consistent statin dose and lifestyle and dietary counselling, led to a 4.9% reduction in non-HDL cholesterol in volunteers, compared to a 3.5% increase in non-HDL cholesterol in matched volunteers who didn’t consume almonds.
2. Satiety Management
Although some people are wary of eating nuts due to their high fat, high-calorie content, the evidence suggests that nuts are not only an excellent nutrient-dense food, they may also support healthy satiety management.
In one 4-week randomized, parallel-arm study, people with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes who ate 43 grams of almonds a day as a snack in the morning or afternoon had lower post-meal blood glucose responses and reported feeling less hungry, compared to people not eating almonds. People eating the the nuts with breakfast or lunch also had lower post-prandial glucose responses. The risk of weight gain did not increase in those eating the almonds either with meals or as a snack.
These benefits of almonds is most likely a result of their fibre content, with energy released slowly, supporting normal blood glucose levels and satisfying appetite.
3. Gut Health
As a rich source of fibre, almonds and their skins have been found to exert beneficial effects on bacterial balance in the gut. These prebiotic properties were seen in one study where healthy adults who ate 56 grams of roasted almonds per day or 10 grams of almond skins for six weeks, had significant increases in the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp.
4. Almonds and Antioxidants
Almonds are a source of antioxidants, including vitamin E and a variety of proanthocyanidins.
In one study patients with CAD who added 85 grams of almonds to a National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Step 1 diet (ALM) for 6 weeks had an average increase of 5.8% in blood levels of vitamin E.
How to Eat Almonds
How you eat your almonds can, as it turns out, have a pretty major impact on nutrient absorption. Research suggests that the smaller the particle size, the greater the accessibility of the healthy fats in the nuts.
Around 8.5-11.3% of the fats in chewed almonds appear to be bioaccessible as most of the fats remain contained within cell walls. Around 42% of the fats in almond flour appear to be bioaccessible, however, and roasted almonds, which have a slightly smaller particle size than when they’re raw, once chewed, may also offer a faster source of ready energy. As such, whole, raw almonds may be an ideal snack for anyone looking for a little extra help with weight management as they help us to feel fuller for longer, without resulting in weight gain.
This article has been provided by Natural factors blog.