Research found that they significantly increase the amount of antioxidants in the blood stream, reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow. These findings add weight to the theory that Mediterranean diets with lots of nuts have big health benefits.
The study was led by Professor Helen Griffiths, Professor in Biomedical Sciences and Executive Dean of the School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston University in Birmingham, UK. Researchers tested the effects of a short-term almond-enriched diet on healthy young and middle-aged men as well as on a group of young men with cardiovascular risk factors including having high blood pressure or being overweight. A control group ate what they normally would, while another group consumed snacks of 50g of almonds a day for one month.
At the end of the study period, the group eating an almond-enriched diet had higher levels of antioxidants (alpha-tocopherol) in their blood stream, improved blood flow and lower blood pressure, potentially reducing their risk of heart disease.
Almonds are known to contain a range of beneficial substances such as vitamin E and healthy fats, fibre which increases the sense of fullness, and flavonoids which may have antioxidant properties. The team believes it is likely to be the combination of all these nutrients working together to create the overall health benefits rather than just one particular nutrient in isolation.
Professor Griffiths said: “Our study confirms that almonds are a superfood. Previous studies have shown that they keep your heart healthy, but our research proves that it isn’t too late to introduce them into your diet - adding even a handful (around 50g) every day for a short period can help. You could replace a daytime snack with a bag of almonds or add them to your regular meals like porridge or muesli to help reduce your risk of heart problems.”
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- The full article, published in peer-reviewed journal Free Radical Research, is available at: http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/10715762.2014.896458
- Methodology: Healthy middle-aged men (56+5.8years), healthy young men (22.1+2.9years) and young men with two or more CV risk factors (27.3+5years) consumed 50g almond /day for 4 weeks. A control group maintained habitual diets over the same period. Plasma α-tocopherol/cholesterol ratios were not different between groups at baseline and were significantly elevated by almond intervention with 50g almond/day for four weeks (p<0.05). Plasma protein oxidation and nitrite levels were not different between groups whereas total, HDL and LDL cholesterols and triglycerides were significantly higher in healthy middle-aged and young men with CV risk factors but were not affected by almond intake. In the almond consuming groups, flow mediated dilatation (FMD) was improved and diastolic blood pressure was reduced significantly after 4 weeks, but systolic blood pressure was only reduced in healthy men.
Notes to editors
- The School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston University is acknowledged as UK-leading, with an outstanding reputation for teaching and research. It was rated ‘best for subjects allied to medicine’ in the 2014 Sunday Times University Guide. The School prides itself on its excellence in research which is integrated into lectures, both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, giving students the distinct advantage of access to the latest trends, thinking, issues and research in their particular field. Further to this, we have invested significantly in well-equipped laboratories providing excellent facilities for teaching and research. For more information visit: http://www.aston.ac.uk/lhs/
- About Aston University: Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established research-led University known for its world-class teaching quality and strong links to industry, government and commerce. Professor Dame Julia King became Vice-Chancellor of the University in 2006. Aston has been a leading university for graduate employment success for over 25 years. The University is currently ranked 8th overall for graduate employment in the 2013 Sunday Times University Guide. The School of Engineering & Applied Science, with its tradition of quality and reputation for cutting edge research, offers students excellent opportunities to join in the process of discovery and creativity, and prepare for an increasingly diverse and technological world.