Heart disease is a serious concern throughout the world. Statistics show that it is the number one cause of death in the general population1. These diseases claim more than 640,000 American lives each year. This accounts for around 25% of all deaths.
There are ways for people to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. New studies suggest that eating almonds may be an effective preventative strategy.
A recent study looked at the consumption of almonds and the risks associated with cardiovascular disease2. The study was published in the Advances in Nutrition Journal. This was a systematic review. The researchers behind the study looked at several randomized controlled trials.
The study was conducted to see if there is validity to the claims made by companies that sell almonds. These companies generally tend to claim that the almonds will help to lower the risk of heart disease. They also provide details that heart health improves with the consumption of almonds.
The researchers selected a total of 15 scientific trials. Thorough investigations into the trials were conducted. There were 534 participants throughout these studies. This provided adequate data for the researchers to determine whether there may be proof of these claims.
Almond consumption was compared to cardiovascular health risks.
It should be noted that the authors made a few notes of the scientific paper. They mention that there was a significant difference in terms of study design between the trials included. There was a difference in the dosage of almonds in the studies. This does make it challenging to determine an appropriate dosage per day. Some provided participants with a higher dose – up to 100 grams – in a single day.
What Does The Research Say?
The researchers looked at all factors related to almonds’ consumption and the corresponding effect on heart disease risk factors.
The research paper notes that there may be validity to the claims made regarding almonds. A conclusion was made that specific cardiovascular disease risk factors seem to be affected positively by almonds.
The three particular benefits noted in the research paper include:
- There was an improvement in blood lipid profiles among people regularly consuming almonds.
- A decrease in body weight was also observed among those who reported a higher consumption of almonds.
- An improvement in apolipoprotein B levels was also observed among these individuals.
The combined effects of these factors may help to lower the risk of heart disease. The study also concluded that multiple groups of people might benefit from almonds.
This includes healthy individuals who want to improve their heart health. The almonds may have longer-term benefits for these people. It would help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in the long run. The study also notes that people with existing cardiovascular disease risk may also be able to benefit from nut consumption.
What Makes Nuts Healthy?
Almonds are nutrient-dense, and there are a few nutritional factors in almonds that may contribute to their heart health-boosting properties.
Here is a quick overview of the nutritional profile found in almonds3:
- Vitamin E
- Monounsaturated fat
Among these, the monounsaturated fats would be the point of interest. This is a healthy type of fat that has been linked to several vital functions in the body.
Many studies have recommended the daily consumption of monounsaturated fats. These fats do not clog arteries as some of the other sources of healthy fat that are found in certain foods.
In one study4, it was identified that almond skin is exceptionally rich in antioxidants. The study revealed that the antioxidants in almonds have a high bioavailability. This means they can be readily absorbed into the body. Furthermore, the study also reveals that these antioxidants work with vitamin E and vitamin C content in raw almonds.
Antioxidants also play an important role in heart health. There are compounds called free radicals that slowly cause damage to the cardiovascular system. This leads to inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease. The damage they cause is generally referred to as oxidative stress.
Antioxidants are known to help fight against the oxidative stress that free radicals cause. This helps to reduce the damage that is done to the cardiovascular system. In turn, this provides a further reduction in the risk of heart-related diseases.
The magnesium in almonds may additionally help lower blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is one of the leading drivers of heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure.
Further health benefits of almonds:
- Lower blood sugar levels: Research has shown that almonds may reduce the rise in glucose (blood sugar) and insulin levels after meals, which can help people with diabetes.
- Healthy cholesterol levels: Studies on almonds and lipid levels show that eating almonds can lower LDL and triglyceride levels while not affecting the beneficial HDL cholesterol levels.
- Satisfy cravings: Almonds are low in carbs and high in protein and fiber. Both protein and fiber are known to increase feelings of fullness. This can help you to lower your calorie intake.
- Weight loss: Due to their satiating properties, nuts are a great addition to an effective weight loss diet.
What Is a Healthy Serving of Nuts?
It is difficult to determine what a “healthy serving” of almonds would be. The controlled trials that were considered during the recent research paper all had different daily doses of almonds. With this in mind, there is no specific dose that seems to be perfect – at least when looking at the research paper results.
According to one publication5, it seems like a one-ounce serving of nuts is generally considered appropriate. A one-ounce serving of almonds usually includes about 24 of these nuts. This is also around one-quarter cup of almonds.
It is a good idea to combine almonds with other nuts in a healthy diet. Several other nut types are known to provide a high dose of monounsaturated fats, as well as other antioxidants. The combined effects help to effectively reduce high cholesterol levels. These fats may also help to elevate levels of HDL cholesterol.
The average individual does not eat nearly enough almonds – which is something to take into consideration. The daily consumption of these nuts will be needed to take advantage of the heart-related benefits of almonds.
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Almonds have been shown to reduce LDL-C, which is a known risk factor for coronary heart disease in several well conducted clinical trials.