HDL cholesterol is considered beneficial, and people with high levels of this good fraction of cholesterol are less prone to heart disease. But people have a difficult time raising their HDL levels. Could almonds help?
Almonds to Energize HDL:
Substituting a handful of almonds for a high-carb low-fat snack may improve the function of good HDL cholesterol. Scientists came to that conclusion from a study they conducted at the Pennsylvania State University.
Almonds vs. Banana Muffins:
The investigators recruited 48 people with high LDL cholesterol to follow a low-fat diet for 12 weeks. During half of this time, they were given a low-fat banana muffin as a snack. During the other six weeks they were provided with 43 grams of almonds to munch. That’s roughly a handful of almonds. The researchers made sure there were about the same number of calories in each day’s meals.
Blood fats were measured at the beginning of the study and after each six-week period. The results showed that normal weight people who ate almonds improved the quality of their HDL. According to the scientists’ calculations, this would reduce the risk of heart disease.
We are not aware of any troublesome side effects due to eating almonds. On the contrary, many readers report that a small number of almonds after a meal can ward off heartburn. We should note, though, that the overweight and obese volunteers in the Penn State study did not experience any HDL benefits during the almond phase of the experiment. Apparently, this type of snack makes a difference only if a person’s metabolism is functioning as it should.