A small serving of almonds daily could help keep your heart healthy. [Photo: Bigstock]

Moderate almond consumption could help reduce cholesterol

11 October, 2016

Natural Health News — A new review has found that eating almonds results in significant reductions in total cholesterol, “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while having no significant impact on “good” HDL cholesterol levels.

Almonds naturally contain many components known to help maintain healthy lipid levels in the blood.  Thus the scientists searched the published literature on almonds for suitable randomised, controlled studies involving healthy adults, which investigated the effect of almond consumption on different types of cholesterol and blood fats.

Additionally each study needed to report the amount of almonds consumed.

Finding the right ‘dose’

The analysis (which was funded by the Almond Board of California and independently evaluated in a peer-reviewed journal) turned up a relatively small study population of 837 adults. It showed that blood lipid levels were most substantially improved in those who ate at least 45g per day (approx. 1.5oz per day) and who had elevated blood lipid levels to begin with.

What you need to know

» Almonds naturally contain many components known to help maintain healthy lipid levels in the blood.

» A new meta-analysis of existing literature has found that a daily ‘dose’ of 45g (1.5oz) of almonds can have a beneficial effect of lowering total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

» The benefits were most pronounced in those who already had high cholesterol to begin with and the study showed that there is some evidence that regular almond consumption may aid weight control – which also benefits the heart.

The data for total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol reduction showed there was a dose-dependent response – in other words greater reductions were seen with higher consumption (again around 45g) of almonds daily with those who already had high cholesterol benefitting the most.

Good fats

The new findings add to the weight of evidence that supports the consumption of almonds as part of a healthy diet to help maintain healthy blood lipid levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

The researchers noted that although the mechanism for cholesterol reduction is not fully understood, the composition of almonds – which includes a favourable fatty acid profile (high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats), plus other key constituents such as flavonoids and sterols – may all play a role in their favourable effects on blood lipids.

Weight loss as a bonus

As a bonus finding, the researchers noted that in some studies there were significant reductions in body weight in those who consumed almonds daily, compared to those who did not.

The authors of the paper in the Journal of Nutritional Science say this finding is consistent with those of previous studies.

“The consumption of almonds as part of a healthy diet should be encouraged in order to improve blood lipid levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.” Said lead author Dr. Kathy Musa-Veloso is Director of Health Claims and Clinical Trials at Intertek Scientific and Regulatory Consultancy.

Almonds are recommended as part of many healthy eating regimens including the Mediterranean diet. A 28g (1oz) serving of almonds provides 160 calories with 6g of plant-based protein, 4g of filling dietary fibre, 13g of “good” unsaturated fats and essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin E (50% DV), magnesium (20% DV) and potassium (6% DV).