Go Nuts! Almonds help lower cholesterol, studies show

Almonds are high in fiber, protein, folic acid, vitamin E, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and phytochemicals. They’re also high in monounsaturated fats, which protect against heart disease by lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or the “bad” cholesterol and increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or the “good” cholesterol.

Researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge conducted two studies using almonds in the diets of healthy and diabetic volunteers. In study 1, normal healthy subjects ate a diet supplemented with 100 grams of almonds a day for four weeks. While there was some increase in body weight after four weeks, there was a significant drop in total, LDL and HDL cholesterol. Studies done elsewhere have shown reduction in total cholesterol even with lower daily intake of almonds, such as a handful.

In study 2, type-2 diabetic subjects consumed four different diets in random order. The four diets were a high-fat diet, a low-fat diet, a high- fat diet high in almonds and a low-fat diet high in almonds. They found that a diet higher in fat resulted in lower total cholesterol level, and the lowest cholesterol level was found with the high-fat diet supplemented with almonds. The diets had no effect on glucose or insulin levels in the diabetic subjects.

“These studies show that addition of almonds to the diet of healthy individuals can have a positive effect on blood lipid levels,” says nutritionist Dr Heli Roy, adding, “Although diabetic individuals need to be careful of fat and carbohydrate intakes, nuts are safe to consume by diabetics since there were no harmful effects on insulin or glucose levels observed in these studies.”

Louisiana State University, Nov 24, 2003