Eating almonds not only increase blood levels of good cholesterol but also boost the transport of bad blood cholesterol to the liver, according to researchers.
Rich in magnesium and potassium, almonds are a healthy and filling snack rich in fiber and protein. A handful of ten almonds has approximately 100 calories.
Regular intake of a handful of almonds increased levels of mature HDL or “good cholesterol” particles, which are associated with cardiovascular health.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University monitored two groups of patients with high levels of bad cholesterol for six weeks. The first group of patients consumed 43 grams of almonds per day, the equivalent of a generous handful, whereas the members of the second group were given a banana muffin.
At the end of each study period, the researchers measured the levels and functioning of HDL cholesterol in each participant and compared these results with blood counts established at the outset of the experiment.
The researchers found that compared to the control diet, the almond diet increased α-1 HDL, when the particles are at their largest size and most mature stage, by 19 percent. Additionally, the almond diet improved HDL function by 6.4 percent, in participants of normal weight.
In addition to boosting HDL cholesterol, almonds also give off good fats, vitamin E and fiber, too, according to the study.
“HDL is very small when it gets released into circulation,” study author Dr. Kris-Etherton said. “It’s like a garbage bag that slowly gets bigger and more spherical as it gathers cholesterol from cells and tissues before depositing them in the liver to be broken down.”
While the research shows that eating nuts on a regular basis are a good choice for those looking to improve heart health, almonds should be eaten in moderation.
The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition.