June 20, 2003
MODESTO, Calif., /PRNewswire/
Take care of Dad this Father’s Day by helping him incorporate almonds into his daily routine. According to a new study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, individuals with normal to moderately high cholesterol levels, may be able to lower their cholesterol and maintain a healthy heart by substituting almonds into their diets for less nutrient-dense foods. Researchers concluded it is likely the combination of a variety of nutrients uniquely found in almonds — such as vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, arginine and dietary fiber — incorporated into the highly effective National Cholesterol Education Program Step 1 diet that reduces cholesterol and cardiovascular disease risk. Today, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.
Researchers at Loma Linda University compared the effects of individuals consuming two levels of almond consumption (low and high) with those following the National Cholesterol Education Program’s Step 1 Diet*. The low- and high- almond diets were designed by replacing 10 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of calories of the Step 1 diet with almonds — that’s about one to two handfuls of almonds.
The results showed a decrease in total cholesterol, as well as LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels across all diets. However, the most significant changes were seen among individuals consuming the diet with the most almonds. Individuals with normal cholesterol levels also benefited from this eating plan by maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. This is promising news for people who want to stay healthy. As an added benefit, researchers also found that despite the addition of almonds to the diet, participants maintained their weight.
“In addition to reducing LDL cholesterol, the high-almond diet also illustrated decreases in the risk factors of cardiovascular disease,” commented Joan Sabate, MD, DrPH, the study’s lead author. “While the monounsaturated fats in almonds are beneficial for heart health, our research also found that other nutrients in almonds may reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors as well. For instance, almonds have a high concentration of the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E, an antioxidant that has been associated with lower risk of heart disease.”
Almonds are also a good source of protein that is rich in arginine, added Sabate. Arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide that is known to inhibit platelet adhesion. Almonds also contain dietary fiber, phytosterols, and other phytochemicals that may have cardio-protective effects.
“These findings are good news for individuals interested in following a heart-healthy diet,” said Sabate. “Many cholesterol-lowering diets are restrictive, allowing for little total and saturated fat, and are difficult to maintain in the long run. This research shows that just a handful of almonds a day supplies healthy monounsaturated fats and other beneficial nutrients for a healthy heart.”
For More Information Consumers can visit http://www.AlmondsAreIn.com for more information and news about eating a daily handful of healthful almonds, plus easy recipes and snack ideas.