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Snacking on Almonds Improves Your Blood Vessels

British researchers found that snacking on almonds instead of mini-muffins boosts blood vessel flexibility and lowers LDL cholesterol levels.
Snacking on Almonds Improves Your Blood Vessels
Almonds nuts isolated on white background. Raw Almond Top view. Flat lay Collection. Close-up. Food concept

Looking for a healthy snack? Researchers have found that snacking on almonds improves the flexibility of blood vessels and also lowers dangerous LDL cholesterol (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 2020).

How Do You Study Snacking on Almonds?

More than 100 individuals at above-average risk of cardiovascular disease participated in the six-week trial, known as the ATTIS study. That stands for Almonds Trial Targeting Dietary Intervention with Snacks. Among the volunteers, 51 were assigned to eat whole roasted almonds and 56 to munch mini-muffins as a control snack. These treats provided the same amount of calories, approximately a fifth of the total daily intake.

There was no effect on weight, waist circumference of liver fat. However, the almond-eaters saw a significant increase in blood vessel flexibility measured as flow-mediated dilation. In addition, they lowered their LDL cholesterol significantly, by almost 10 mg/dL.

The investigators estimate that consuming whole almonds instead of other snacks could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by about 30 percent. They calculated that relative risk based on the change in LDL cholesterol and flow-mediated dilation.

One of the reasons they used whole almonds is that the skins are especially rich in fiber as well as certain other phytonutrients. The nuts also contain L-arginine, an amino acid critical for the production of nitric oxide in blood vessels. The scientists suggest that the increased polyphenol content along with vitamin E and folate could increase the bioavailability of this compound.

Just to get technical, here is what the investigators determined:

“In conclusion, the results of this trial show that replacing typical snacks with almonds can have a meaningful impact on daily nutrient intakes and can improve endothelial function, cardiac autonomic function, and lower LDL cholesterol.”

Who Paid for the Study?

The Almond Board of California provided the almonds and some of the funding for this study conducted in the UK. This doesn’t invalidate the findings, but it is worth keeping in mind.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
  • Dikariyanto V et al, "Snacking on whole almonds for 6 weeks improves endothelial function and lowers LDL cholesterol but does not affect liver fat and other cardiometabolic risk factors in healthy adults: the ATTIS study, a randomized controlled trial." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 2020. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqaa100
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