(NaturalNews) If you want to steer clear of the devastating
side effects of statin drugs and still get your cholesterol
numbers looking good, eating almonds may be just the right
choice. Studies have shown that eating a nutritious diet
that includes almonds sends LDL numbers plummeting. And
there's more. Eating almonds provides super strength
protection against diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer
and even weight gain and obesity.
Almonds are stars of cholesterol research
In a four week study reported in the Journal of the
American Medical Association, 46 healthy human subjects
were divided into three groups. The control group ate a low
saturated fat diet based on milled whole-wheat cereals and
low-fat dairy foods. The second group ate the same diet and
also took the statin drug lovastatin. The third group ate a
diet high in almonds plus plant sterols, non-meat protein
and fiber. LDL cholesterol decreased by 8 percent in the
control group, 30 percent in the statin group, and 28
percent in the almond group.
Another study, published in the European Journal of
Clinical Nutrition, found that heart disease risk
correlates not only with cholesterol levels, but also with
inflammation of blood vessels. Following a diet that
includes almonds effectively lowers not only LDL cholesterol
levels but also C-reactive protein levels, a key marker of
inflammation. Inflammation is hard on the heart because it
increases the development of atherosclerosis (clogged
arteries) and causes the heart to have to pump faster and
harder to get its job done.
In this study, 34 people followed a dietary plan, called the
Portfolio Eating Plan, which included almonds. In this
group, C-reactive protein levels fell 24 percent from
baseline, an amount similar to the reduction achieved by
taking a statin drug, only without the life draining side
effects of taking the drug.
Another study examining this same group and reported in the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that
when directly compared to first-generation statin drugs, the
Portfolio Eating Plan diet with its emphasis on almonds is
just as effective in lowering LDL cholesterol below the
recommended range for heart disease prevention.
Five large human epidemiological studies, including the
Nurses Health Study, all found that nut consumption is
linked to lower risk for heart disease. Researchers studying
data from the Nurses study found that substituting nuts for
an equivalent amount of carbohydrate in an average diet
resulted in a 30 percent reduction in heart disease risk.
They found a 45 percent reduction when fat from nuts was
substituted for saturated fats.
Almonds protect against cardiovascular disease and
Almond's ability to reduce heart disease risk may also be
due to the huge amounts of the antioxidant vitamin E found
in these nuts, and the LDL lowering effect of the
monounsaturated fats they contain. When almonds are
substituted for more traditional fats in human feeding
trials, LDL cholesterol is reduced from 8 to 12 percent.
A quarter cup of almonds contains 99 mg of magnesium and 257
mg of potassium. Magnesium is a natural channel blocker.
When magnesium levels are high, veins and arteries relax,
lessening resistance and allowing increased flow of oxygen
and nutrient rich blood. Potassium is involved in nerve
transmission and contraction of all muscles including the
heart. It is another mineral essential for maintaining
normal blood pressure and heart function. Almonds help
stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent free radical
producing insulin spikes.
The Journal of Nutrition reports a study of 15
healthy people who ate 5 meals with comparable amounts of
protein, carbohydrates and fat. Two meals consisted of bread
only. Three meals consisted of almonds, bread, parboiled
rice, and instant mashed potatoes. Blood samples taken after
each meal showed levels of blood sugar and insulin were
lower following the almond meal, and levels of protective
antioxidants increased. This study demonstrates the powerful
anti-aging effect of almonds as well as their ability to
ward off diabetes.
The more almonds eaten as part of a meal, the lower will be
the glycemic index of that meal, and the smaller the rise in
blood sugar levels produced by that meal. The benefit of
eating almonds is dose dependent.
Healthy fats in almonds aid in weight loss
Nuts contain lots of fat, and many people still operate
under the idea that fat makes you fat, so nuts are often
sunned. However, review of the data from the Nurses' Health
Study shows that frequent nut eaters are thinner on average
than those who almost never consume nuts.
One reason nuts help with weight loss is their nutrient
density. A body that is well nourished no longer craves
food. The traditional American diet is so depleted of the
nutrients needed by the body that the body continues to send
hunger signals. In response to these signals, more nutrient
deficient food is eaten and more hunger signals are sent. It
is a vicious circle that leads to steady weight gain as the
years go by. Eating nutrient rich almonds and other nuts
breaks this vicious circle allowing for the feelings of
fullness and satiety to set in.
In a study published in the International Journal of
Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, researchers
found that adding almonds to a low calorie diet can help
overweight individuals drop pounds more effectively than a
low calorie diet high in complex carbohydrates. Of 65
overweight participants, those that ate the almond enriched
low calorie diet consumed 39% of their calories in the form
of fat. Participants that ate the low calorie diet high in
complex carbohydrates consumed only 18% of their calories
from fat. Both diets supplied the same number of calories
and equivalent amounts of protein.
After six months, those on the almond added diet had greater
reductions in weight, body fat, total body water, and
systolic blood pressure. Those eating almonds had a 62
percent greater reduction in body mass index score, 50
percent greater reduction in waist circumference, and 56
percent greater reduction in body fat compared to those on
the low calorie complex carbohydrate diet. Among those with
diabetes, medication reductions were sustained or further
reduced in 96% of those on the almond added diet.
A study reported in an WHFood's article on almonds,
involving 8865 adults found that those who ate nuts at least
two times per week were 31% less likely to gain weight than
were those who never or seldom at them.
The British Journal of Nutrition reports a study of
43 men and 38 women whose normal eating patterns were
observed for 6 months. They were then told to eat about 2
ounces or one-quarter cup of almonds daily with no other
instructions. They were then followed for another 6 months
at the end of which researchers found their intake of
monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids,
fiber, vegetable protein, vitamin E, copper and magnesium
significantly increased. Their intake of trans fatty acids,
animal protein, sodium, cholesterol and sugars significantly
Almonds are a good source of cancer preventing laetrile
The 1990's Adventist Health Study of a large
population of California Seven Day Adventists found that
eating nuts was one of the four top factors for extending
longevity. These beneficial effects were found for men,
women, vegetarians, meat-eaters, fatter, people, thinner
people, the old, the young, and those who exercised and
those who did not.
One of the likely reasons behind this finding is the high
levels of laetrile contained in almonds. Laetrile, otherwise
known as vitamin B-17, is a cancer cure that corruption has
prevented from reaching the U.S. market. Commercial
preparations of laetrile are obtained from the kernels of
apricots, peaches and almonds. Its active ingredient,
amygdaline, comes from the Greek word for almond. Laetrile
has persisted as a known cancer fighter since the 2nd
Almonds have prebiotic properties
Recently published work by the Institute of Food Research
has identified potential prebiotic properties of almonds
that could help improve digestive health by encouraging gut
bacteria to flourish. A healthy and abundant population of
friendly bacteria in the gut form part of the body's defense
against harmful bacteria and are part of the body's immune
system. Prebiotics are non-digestible parts of foods that
are able to get through the upper part of the intestine
without being digested or absorbed.
The California Almond Board sponsored a study to subject
almonds to the same conditions experienced in the stomach
and small intestine. They then added the digested almonds in
vitro to mimic the bacterial fermentation in the large
intestine and monitored its effect on the population of
intestinal bacteria. The study, published in Applied and
Environmental Microbiology, found that finely ground
almonds significantly increased the levels of beneficial
bacteria. This effect was not seen when the fat content was
removed from the almond preparation, suggesting that the
beneficial bacteria used the almond lipids for growth, thus
making it the basis of the prebiotic effect of almonds.
Almonds have even more nutrients and benefits
Almonds are high in trace minerals that are essential
cofactors for production of superoxide dismutase (SOD), one
of the body's endogenous antioxidants. SOD works in the
mitochondria, the cellular furnace, to keep down free
radicals that interfere with cellular energy production.
Almonds are also good sources of the B vitamins necessary
for recycling of another endogenous antioxidant,
Studies have shown that eating nuts can lower the risk of
developing gallstones by 25 percent. It helps prevent
dementia, advanced macular degeneration, and stroke.
Getting maximum nutrition from almonds
Almonds right off the store shelf are better than no
almonds, but they can be difficult to digest and eating too
many may stress your pancreas. Almonds like all nuts contain
phytate, nature's way of making sure the nut survives the
winter to sprout in the spring. To gain maximum nutrition
and digestibility from almonds, it's best to soak them
before they are eaten. Almonds are one of only a few nuts
that will actually sprout when soaked. Soaking neutralizes
the phytate and allows the nutrients from the nut to be
Start with fresh, completely unprocessed almonds and soak
them in water with a pinch of sea salt for about 12 hours.
Then dry them at a temperature that does not exceed 105
degrees F. Be sure they are completely dried before putting
them away. There are several good sources online for buying
nuts suitable for sprouting.
Go nuts with almonds
Almonds make a great snack for adults and kids. Almond
butter makes a delicious breakfast spread on warm toast, or
a nourishing lunchbox centerpiece stuffed into celery ribs.
Kids love almond butter and fruit sandwiches. Sprouted
almonds are crispy and crunchy, making them a super addition
to salads, casseroles, pasta, vegetables, and meats. Add
cinnamon or other herbs and spices to sprouted almonds to
turn up their nutritional level even higher. Add almonds to
Chinese dishes and rice. Coat them with honey, or shoyu and
roll in herbs, spices or raw cacao. Use your imagination.
Press Release, Almond Board of California.
Diet May Lower Cholesterol As Much As Statins,
Mary Larado, The Laetrile Saga, Part 1,
Prebiotic Potential of Almonds, ScienceDaily.