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Go Nuts!!! Eat Almonds for a Healthy Heart
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Go Nuts!!! Eat Almonds for a Healthy Heart

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Highlights
  • Packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein, almonds offer a host of health benefits.
  • Almonds are high-fat foods that are good for your heart.
  • A recent study shows that almonds cause a significant reduction not only in total cholesterol, but also LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides.

Almonds are rich in fats, especially health-promoting fats like monounsaturated fats found in olive oil. A one-ounce (28 grams) serving of almonds reportedly contains a total of 160 calories with 6 grams of plant-based protein, 4 grams of filling dietary fiber, 13 grams of unsaturated fats ("good" fats), essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin E (50% DV), magnesium (20% DV) and potassium (6% DV).

Past studies have associated almonds to cause a significant reduction in risk of heart disease.

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A recent systematic review and meta-analysis, conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA), demonstrates that eating almonds cause a significant reduction in total cholesterol, LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol or "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides, however, has no effect on HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol or "good" cholesterol levels. It also reveals that almonds could cause a substantial improvement in lipid levels at a dose of 45g/day.

Lead study author, Dr. Kathy Musa-Veloso, who is a Director of Health Claims and Clinical Trials at Intertek Scientific & Regulatory Consultancy, and her associates analyzed 18 published randomized controlled trials, which had a total of 837 participants across all the studies. The results of this study are published in the Journal of Nutritional Science.
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Observations

Total cholesterol

  • Results from all studies revealed the reduction in total cholesterol to be 0.153 mmol/L (5.92 mg/dL). However, when the dose of almonds consumed was at least 45 g/day (~1.5 oz/day), the reduction in total cholesterol was found to be 0.212 mmol/L (8.20 mg/dL). Thus the effect of almond on total cholesterol was found to be dose-dependent, the larger the intake of almond, the greater was the reduction in total cholesterol.
  • When studies were analyzed in which patients had elevated total cholesterol levels (at baseline), the reduction in total cholesterol was found to be 0.271 mmol/L (10.48 mg/dL), suggesting that the effects of almonds on total cholesterol levels were quite significant in these subjects.

LDL-cholesterol

  • When data from all of the studies were pooled, the reduction in LDL-C was reported to be 0.124 mmol/L (4.80 mg/dL).
  • When the studies in which the total dose of almonds consumed were at least 45 g (~1.5 oz), the LDL-C reductions were reported to be 0.132 mmol/L (5.10 mg/dL).
  • However, the analysis of studies in which the subjects had elevated LDL-C levels at baseline, the reduction was reported to be 0.158 mmol/L (6.11 mg/dL).
 
Other Observations

  • The authors noted that three studies demonstrated significant reductions in body weight in almond intervention group as compared to the control group.
  • One such study is a 6 weeks trial by Berryman et al, which revealed a significant reduction in body weight, waist circumference and body composition (including abdominal fat mass) for patients on almond diet when compared to patients on a control diet.
  • Another study conducted by Novotny et al. in 2012, showed that not all of the energy in almonds is actually metabolizable and it is important to maintain a healthy weight, along with consumption of a healthy diet to help promote heart health.
Dr. Kathy Musa-Veloso commented, "These results strengthen decades of research about how the regular consumption of almonds can favorably impact blood lipid levels and have a positive effect on heart health. The consumption of almonds as part of a healthy diet should be encouraged in order to improve blood lipid levels and reduce the risk of heart disease."

Source: Medindia

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