Who doesn’t love a midday snack? The right snack can provide an energy boost, satiate your hunger, and act as something to look forward to on a long day. Making whole almonds your snack of choice meets all of those perks, and according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, itmay also improve cardiovascular health.
The research conducted by King’s College London found that swapping your typical snacks for almonds can improve endothelial function and lower bad cholesterol.
What did the researchers find?
Participants included adult men and women between the ages of 30 and 70 years old, all of whom were at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
After two weeks of eating traditional snacks, the participants were split into two groups. One group ate whole almonds, while the other continued eating the control snack (sweet and savory mini muffins) for a remaining four weeks. Both snacks provided a 20% total calorie intake.
At the end of the six weeks, researchers measured the cardiometabolic health markers in both groups.
Almond snackers showed an improvement in endothelial function, which according to the study is “a key factor in the initiation, progression, and disease manifestation of atherosclerosis.” Atherosclerosis is characterized by a buildup of fats and cholesterol in the arterial walls and can lead to other cardiovascular problems, if left untreated.
The almond group also lowered their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also called bad cholesterol. This is likely because snacks high in saturated fats were replaced with almonds, which are rich in unsaturated fats, phytosterols, and fiber, the study explains.
Overall, the almond-eating group lowered their cardiovascular disease risk by 32%.
Incorporating healthy snacks into your daily diet is important. For those with cardiovascular risks, adding almonds to the mix may have significant impacts on heart health.
Though this study focused exclusively on whole almonds, adding the healthy protein to your diet through almond milk or almond butter can also increase your vitamin and mineral intake.