Eating 42 grams of almonds daily also significantly improved participants’ LDL and total cholesterol levels
(07 January 2015) – A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that a daily snack of 42 grams of almonds instead of a high-carbohydrate muffin with equivalent calories, consumed as part of an overall healthy diet, improved a number of heart disease risk factors in study participants1. In addition to significantly improving LDL and total cholesterol, snacking on almonds instead of muffins also reduced central adiposity (belly fat); all three are well-established heart disease risk factors.
Although heart disease remains the number one cause of death worldwide, it is estimated that at least 80% of premature deaths from cardiovascular disease can be avoided if diet and lifestyle risk factors are controlled2. While a large body of evidence has demonstrated that almond consumption is associated with improved heart health, this is the first and largest controlled feeding study using identical diets (with the exception of almonds vs. a calorie matched snack) to investigate and isolate the cardio-protective properties of almonds beyond their contributions to an overall heart-healthy diet. The findings are also the first of their kind to show benefits of eating almonds in terms of reducing regional body fat – specifically abdominal and leg fat. Reducing abdominal fat is of particular benefit given its connection to metabolic syndrome and increased risk for heart disease3.
The twelve-week randomized, controlled clinical study, led by researchers at Penn State University (US), was conducted in 52 overweight, middle-aged adults who had high total and LDL cholesterol but were otherwise healthy. Participants ate identical cholesterol-lowering diets with the exception of a daily snack of either 42 grams of whole natural almonds or a banana muffin, which provided an equivalent number of calories. Participants were provided all meals and snacks in amounts based on their calorie needs to maintain body weight, and followed each diet for six weeks.