Almonds To Improve Cholesterol
Eating almonds regularly appears to increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol and may even help improve the way it works. Researchers at Penn State looked at the effects of adding almonds to the diets of a group of 48 men and women with high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. The participants were all put on the same diet that included 43 grams of almonds (about a handful) daily for six weeks. Then, for another six weeks, they followed the same diet but ate a banana muffin instead of almonds. The researchers reported that the almond diet improved HDL function by 6.4 percent among study participants of normal weight, and increased the amount of certain HDL particles by 19 percent, potentially making them more effective. The particles, a-1 HDL, are known to decrease the risk of heart disease. Study leader Penny Kris-Etherton, a professor of nutrition, noted that earlier research indicates that diets including almonds lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, a major risk factor for heart disease. She added that not much was known about the effect of almonds on HDL, which transports cholesterol from tissues and cells to the liver for removal from the body. The study was supported by the Almond Board of California.
My take? These new findings add to what we already know about the heart-healthy benefits of nuts. Almonds are among my favorite nuts (along with walnuts and cashews), and I’m happy to assure you that they have a firm place in a healthy diet. A study published in 2016 concluded that eating about 20 grams of nuts daily – about 0.71 ounces or the equivalent of a handful – is associated with a 30 percent reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease, a 15 percent lower risk of cancer and a 22 percent lower risk of premature death. Despite their beneficial nutritional profile, nuts are relatively high in calories, so enjoy them in moderation. I usually eat a handful per day.
Penny Kris-Etherton et al, “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, August 2017, doi:10.3945/jh.116.245126
Also in this week’s bulletin: