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Europe: Study finds eating almonds may lower heart disease risk

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A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that eating almonds daily may improve certain factors associated with heart disease risk.

The randomized, controlled clinical study, conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto, included 27 adult participants (mean age of 64 years) with elevated low density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Participants followed a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol that also included each of three dietary interventions for four weeks each in a crossover design.

Each day for four weeks, researchers gave one group 50–100 g (2–4 oz) of almonds.

A control group received 100–200 g of muffins and a third group received 25–50 g (1–2 oz) of almonds and 50–100 g of muffins.

Each participant completed all three dietary treatments, so the total length of the study was 12 weeks.

The quantity of almonds and muffins provided to each participant varied according to estimations to maintain his or her baseline weight.

The muffins were formulated to provide the same number of calories and the same amount of saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), protein, and fiber as the almonds.

The primary difference between the almond composition and the muffin composition was that the almonds had significantly more monounsaturated fat (50% vs 8% of calories), whereas the muffins had significantly more carbohydrates (53% vs 15% of calories).

Results

Compared to eating muffins, eating almonds was associated with a significant increase in the oleic acid and monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) content of serum triglycerides.

In the free fatty acid fraction, eating almonds also increased oleic acid and MUFAs, although the results just missed significance in the full-dose almond group, which researchers attribute to higher variability.

For every 30 g/day (approximately one oz) increase in the intake of almonds, the estimated 10-year risk score of coronary heart disease (CHD) was reduced by 3.5% for study participants.

No significant associations were observed between PUFAs and 10-year CHD risk.

There were no significant differences in body weight between groups.