Almonds may offer protection from type 2 diabetes and heart disease

Tue, 08 Apr 2014
People at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes may be able to lower their risk by increasing their intake of almonds, according to new research.

The scientific study, led by Dr. Michelle Wien, found that consuming an almond-rich diet may help improve the body's sensitivity to insulin and reduce levels of LDL (or 'bad') cholesterol in adults with prediabetes. Low insulin sensitivity, or insulin resistance, and high LDL cholesterol are known risk factors for both type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

To examine the health promotion and disease prevention benefits of almond consumption, the researchers randomly assigned a group of 65 adults diagnosed with prediabetes (48 women and 17 men) to either a dietary intervention group or a control group.

Those in the control group followed a nut-free, regular diet consisting of 15-20% calories from protein, 10% total energy from saturated fat, 60-70% from carbohydrate and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and less than 300mg/day of cholesterol, while the intervention group were put on a similar diet but with 20% of the calories coming from almonds.

After 16 weeks, levels of LDL-cholesterol and measures of insulin sensitivity were significantly improved among participants in the intervention group, suggesting that a diet enriched with almonds may not only contribute to heart health but also to risk reduction for certain chronic diseases.

"It is promising for those with risk factors for chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, that dietary changes may help to improve factors that play a potential role in the disease development," principal investigator Dr. Wien said.

She added: "It would be beneficial to conduct tightly controlled metabolic feeding studies and postprandial studies that feature controlled amounts of carbohydrate to confirm the findings of this study, which was performed in a free-living population."

Almonds offer 3.5 grams of fibre, 13 grams of unsaturated fat and only 1 gram of saturated fat per one-ounce serving.
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