Almonds: Superhero Fighters of Bad Cholesterol

Andy Peloquin

Personal Training

 

A new study from Penn State University has discovered a wonderful new benefit of eating almonds: lowering cholesterol levels. More specifically, lowering LDL cholesterol by raising HDL cholesterol.

 

 

High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are responsible for keeping low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in check. LDL cholesterol is the type of lipids that cling to your arterial walls, harden into plaque, and lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. But with sufficient HDL cholesterol, your body is able to manage LDL cholesterol and prevent high blood lipid concentrations.

 

The Penn State researchers analyzed blood samples from both a control group (which ate muffins every day) and an experimental group (which ate almonds every day). They specifically measured the HDL cholesterol levels. The experimental group had significantly higher levels of HDL in their bloodstream compared to the control group.

 

Not only did eating almonds lead to higher levels of HDL cholesterol, but it also increased the HDL cholesterol's function. After just a six-week diet of a handful of almonds, the levels of large-particle HDL cholesterol increased by 19%.

 

According to the lead researcher, "HDL is very small when it gets released into circulation. It’s like a garbage bag that slowly gets bigger and more spherical as it gathers cholesterol from cells and tissues before depositing them in the liver to be broken down.”

The fact that large-particle HDL cholesterol levels increased indicated that the almond intake improved HDL cholesterol function and enabled it to collect LDL cholesterol more efficiently—by up to 6.4 %, according to the data.

 

What does this mean? Simply put, the HDL cholesterol is "going to tissues and pulling out (LDL) cholesterol, getting bigger, and taking that cholesterol to the liver for removal from the body."

Almonds have already been linked to a number of health benefits, including weight loss, appetite control, blood sugar management, and balanced blood pressure. This latest discovery provides one more reason to add almonds to your diet.

 

As the research says, "if people incorporate almonds into their diet, they should expect multiple benefits, including ones that can improve heart health. They’re not a cure-all, but when eaten in moderation — and especially when eaten instead of a food of lower nutritional value — they're a great addition to an already healthy diet.”

 

While this does not necessarily negate any of the findings here, we'll just add that the researchers did admit that the Almond Board of California supported this study. For almond friendly research from a country that has no indigenous almond industry, you can try a British study on the effect of almond consumption on the serum fatty acid profile: a dose–response study. Being pro almond isn't being a sell-out.

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