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The Surprising Benefits of Almonds for Weight Loss and Heart Health

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The Surprising Benefits of Almonds for Weight Loss and Heart Health

They are rich in fat, yet according to a recent study, almonds do not interfere with weight loss. And they do good too

Those trying to lose weight view them with suspicion due to their high calorie and fat content. But no, countermand: almonds should be considered a valuable addition to a slimming diet. A recent study published in the journal Obesity found that those who integrate almonds into their diet lose almost the same weight as those who do not consume them. And, even more surprisingly, it also shows improvements in various indicators of cardiometabolic health. How do you explain it?

The Hidden Power of Almonds: the study — To better understand how almond consumption affects weight loss, 140 men and women between the ages of 24 and 65, with a body mass index (BMI) in the overweight or obese range, were recruited. All participants were then randomly assigned to either an almond-enriched diet or a nut-free diet. The “enriched” diet provided 15 percent of daily calories in the form of natural, whole, unsalted California almonds, with skin. The other group, however, received a corresponding number of calories in the form of carbohydrate-rich snacks such as rice crackers or fruit granola bars. After 12 weeks of a low-calorie diet followed by 24 weeks of a weight maintenance diet, the results were astonishing. Participants in both groups lost similar weight, about 7 kilograms, and all showed improvements in cardiometabolic health.

However, the researchers found that the almond-enriched diet offered superior improvements in certain subclasses of lipoproteins, including small LDL-P, which could lead to a reduction in cardiovascular risk. “Lipoproteins are particles composed of fats and proteins that travel in the blood throughout the body,” explains Dr. Sharayah Carter, lead author of the study. “Some of these are harmful to the heart, while others are protective for the heart. The reduction in harmful lipoproteins with weight loss in both groups was beneficial and associated with reduced cardiometabolic risk. However, the greater reduction in the concentration of particular types of lipoproteins observed in the group that ate almonds is good news.”

Alison Coates, lecturer at UniSA Allied Health & Human Performance and co-author of the study adds: “Both groups had equivalent reductions in weight and equivalent improvements in measures of cardiometabolic health such as blood pressure, glucose control and lipids. The almond group, however, saw some additional benefits in lipoprotein fractions, linked to the progression of atherosclerosis and therefore the reduction of these types of particles would lead to a long-term reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

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Conclusions — In short, almonds, despite their high calorie content, appear to be a valuable addition to a balanced diet, contributing to weight loss and improving cardiometabolic health. “The study demonstrates how dried fruit can support a healthy diet for weight management and cardiometabolic health,” concludes Carter. “Dried fruit, such as almonds, make a great snack. They are rich in protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals, but they also have a high fat content that people may associate with weight gain, but in return they contain unsaturated fats – or healthy fats – which can improve cholesterol levels in the blood, relieve inflammation and contribute to a healthy heart.”

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