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Eating almonds can improve vascular health, study finds

Snacking on almonds is good for your vascular health and is an indicator of a healthy diet, a study has found.

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Research led by Dr. Wendy Hall, Reader in Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that replacing popular snacks such as biscuits and crisps with almonds can improve endothelial function, a key indicator of vascular health, and lower ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol.

Participants who had above average cardiovascular disease risk consumed almonds or a calorie-matched control snack in the six-week randomised control, parallel-arm trial. Researchers compared cardiometabolic health markers between the two groups.

The improvement in endothelial function and LDL-cholesterol levels suggests that replacing typical snacks with almonds, as 20% of total calorie intake, has the potential to reduce adjusted relative cardiovascular disease risk by 32%.

The study adds to recent research by King’s, also led by Dr Wendy Hall and published in the European Journal of Nutrition, which found people who eat almonds in the UK have a lower waist circumference and lower BMI than those who do not.

Our randomised controlled trial shows that eating whole almonds in place of typical snacks (which tend to be high in sugars and/or saturated fats, and low in fibre and micronutrients) can improve cardiovascular health by increasing vasodilation of arteries in response to an increase in blood flow and lowering LDL-cholesterol. – Dr Wendy Hall, from the School of Life Course Sciences, King's

Researchers examined a four-day food diary from 6,802 adults and found that UK adults who eat almonds have a healthier diet, as they have higher reported intakes of protein, total fat, vitamin C, fiber, potassium and other healthy supplements. They also had lower intakes of trans-fatty acids, total carbohydrate, sugar and sodium.

Almond eaters also had a lower waist circumference by 2.1cm and a lower BMI by. 8 kg/m².

Dr Hall added: “Consumption of whole tree nuts such as almonds is an important part of a healthy diet; our research using a large UK population database shows that intakes are low in adults, but those who do report eating almonds are also more likely to consume healthier diets in general and have lower body fat.”

Both trials, which were funded by the Almond Board of California, suggest that eating almonds can be both beneficial to those with an above average risk of cardiovascular disease and an indication of better diets.

In this story

Wendy  Hall

Wendy Hall

Reader in Nutritional Sciences

Sarah Berry

Sarah Berry

Senior Lecturer