Another High-Fat Plant Food That’s Good For Your Heart
“Fat” used to be a bad word, but things have changed. We now know that fat is not only not necessarily bad for you; it can also be good for your heart health. That’s because certain types of fat—usually fats found in plant foods—are especially good for the cardiovascular system. I reported yesterday that an avocado a day, for five weeks, was shown recently to lower obese people’s “bad” cholesterol levels, reducing their heart disease risk.
As it turns out, another high-fat plant food is also good for your blood lipid levels. According to the results of a study published recently in the Journal of the American Heart Association, almonds are also heart healthy.
Of course, almonds have enjoyed this reputation for a while. In 2003, for instance, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a “qualified health claim” regarding the consumption of nuts and seeds and their impact on heart disease risk. This statement noted that nut consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. Others have reported that almonds could play an important role in weight-loss efforts due to their apparent ability to cut hunger and reduce overeating.
But the investigators noted that theirs would be the first clinical trial to measure the potential health benefits of eating a specific amount of almonds each day, in a controlled manner. So they recruited 48 people with high “bad” LDL-cholesterol levels, meaning these folks were at elevated risk for heart disease. One group was randomly assigned to eat one-and-a-half ounces of almonds daily, while the other group ate a muffin with the same amount of calories, daily. Otherwise, all subjects consumed the exact same diet, prepared daily by the researchers.
After six weeks, people who snacked on almonds each day experienced a significant decrease in total and LDL-cholesterol levels, but no decline in “good” HDL-cholesterol. In contrast, people who ate the high-carbohydrate muffin snack experienced decreases in “good” HDL-cholesterol levels, and increases in LDL-cholesterol. Remarkably, the almond eaters also lost fat around the abdomen, even though they did not lose weight overall. This “novel” effect of almond consumption was yet another reminder that almonds help reduce overall heart disease risk factors.
Berryman CE, West SG, et al. Effects of Daily Almond Consumption on Cardiometabolic Risk and Abdominal Adiposity in Healthy Adults With Elevated LDL-Cholesterol: A Randomized Controlled Trial.J Am Heart Assoc. 2015 Jan 5;4(1). pii: e000993. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.114.000993.