- Daily consumption of almonds increases levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol)
- Almonds improve HDL cholesterol function and lower the risk of heart disease
- Almonds provide a dose of good fats, vitamin E and fiber
Almonds may help boost levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol) when consumed on a regular basis and can also improve the way cholesterol is removed from the body, reveals a recent study.
Improved HDL Cholesterol Levels And Function
In this study, the levels and function of HDL cholesterol
were compared in people who had almonds everyday, to the HDL cholesterol levels and function of the same group of people who had a muffin instead.
‘Eating almonds on a daily basis not only increases the levels of HDL cholesterol, but also improves the function of HDL cholesterol.’
The research team found that participants who included almonds in their diet had improved HDL cholesterol levels and function.
The study published in the Journal of Nutrition
is built on previous research, where the effects of almonds on cholesterol-lowering diets have been studied, said Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State.
There are a lot of research studies that show a diet that includes almonds lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol), which is found to be a major risk factor for heart disease. But not much is known about how almonds affect HDL cholesterol, as it is called as the good cholesterol and helps in lowering the risk of heart disease, said Kris-Etherton.
The research team wanted to find out if almonds could also improve the function of HDL cholesterol apart from just increase the levels of HDL. This works by gathering cholesterol from various tissues such as the arteries and helping to transport it out of the body.
Kris-Etherton said: "HDL is very small when it gets released into circulation, and is like a garbage bag that slowly gets bigger and more spherical as it gathers cholesterol from cells and tissues before depositing them in the liver to be broken down."
A Handful of Almonds Lowers Heart Disease Risk
HDL cholesterol is categorized into five "subpopulations" depending on how much cholesterol is collected, ranging from the very small preβ-1 to the larger, more mature α-1.
The research team hoped that participants who ate almonds would have more α-1 particles, which is a sign of improved HDL function.
In the controlled group, about 48 men and women with high levels of LDL cholesterol participated in two six-week diet periods. The diet of the participants was identical except for the daily snack.
Participants who were on the almond diet received about a handful of almonds (43 grams) a day and during the control period, the participants received a banana muffin instead of almonds.
The research team measured the levels and function of each participant's HDL cholesterol, at the end of each diet period. The participants' baseline measurements were taken at the beginning of the study and now the results obtained are compared with them.
The research team found that participants who were on the almond diet had increased α-1 HDL by 19 percent, when compared to the control diet, where the particles are at their largest size and most mature stage. In addition, participants who were on the almond diet had improved HDL function by 6.4 percent, in those who had normal weight.
Kris-Etherton said that they were able to show that there were more larger particles in response to having almonds in the diet, when compared to those who did not.
She also said: "That would translate to the smaller particles doing what they're supposed to be doing. They're going to tissues and pulling out cholesterol, getting bigger, and taking that cholesterol to the liver for removal from the body."
An increase in this particular HDL cholesterol subpopulation would be meaningful, because the particles decrease overall risk of cardiovascular disease, explained Kris-Etherton.
Multiple Benefits of Almonds
might be a smart choice for a healthy snack, even though they do not eliminate the risk of heart disease. Additionally, almonds also provide a dose of good fats, vitamin E and fiber, apart from their heart-healthy benefits, said Kris-Etherton.
When people incorporate almonds into their diet, they can expect multiple benefits, including the ones that can improve heart health.
Kris-Etherton said that almonds are not a cure-all, but when eaten in moderation, particularly, instead of low nutritional value foods, are a great addition to an already healthy diet.
Almonds are one of the most healthy and nutritious nuts. Eating a handful of almonds a day aids in weight loss and improve brain health. Swapping unhealthy snacks with almonds can reduce hunger and reduce their overall calorie intake.
Almonds contain monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, vitamin E, riboflavin, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, iron, selenium and other essential antioxidants. Almonds are usually eaten raw, can also be added to salads and yogurt. They are also available in other forms like flour and milk.
- Claire E Berryman, Jennifer A Fleming, and Penny M Kris-Etherton. Inclusion of Almonds in a Cholesterol-Lowering Diet Improves Plasma HDL Subspecies and Cholesterol Efflux to Serum in Normal-Weight Individuals with Elevated LDL Cholesterol. Journal Of Nutrition (2017).DOI: 10.3945/jn.116.245126