Study suggests Almonds have superfood qualities
Eating almonds as part of a regular diet may reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping blood vessels health, according to researchers from Aston University in Birmingham in the UK.
The study, published in the May 2014 issue of peer-reviewed journal Free Radical Research, found that consuming almonds significantly increased the amount of antioxidants in the bloodstream, reduced blood pressure and improved blood flow. The researchers said these findings add weight to the theory that Mediterranean diets with lots of nuts had 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.
The 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 researchers found the group eating an almond-enriched diet had higher levels of antioxidants (alpha-tocopherol) in their bloodstream, improved blood flow and lower blood pressure, potentially reducing their risk of heart disease.
Several beneficial nutrients working together
The researchers said almonds were 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 researchers said it was 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.
“Our study confirms that almonds are a superfood,” Professor Griffiths said. “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,” she said.
“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,” Professor Griffiths said.
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