Researchers at Pennsylvania State University recently confirmed the anti-cholesterol benefits of almonds. Regular intake of a handful of almonds increased levels of mature HDL or "good cholesterol" particles, which are associated with cardiovascular health, by 19 percent.
According to a study published on Friday, August 11 in the Journal of Nutrition, almonds may not only increase blood levels of HDL (good cholesterol), but also boost the transport of bad blood cholesterol to the liver.
Previous studies have already shown that the small oleaginous fruit -- which is not a true nut -- has the capacity to reduce blood levels of LDL (bad cholesterol), which is associated with increased cardiovascular risk.
Over a period of six weeks, researchers at Pennsylvania State University monitored two groups of patients with high levels of bad cholesterol. The first group of patients consumed 43 grams of almonds per day, the equivalent of a generous handful, whereas the members of the second group were given a banana muffin.
At the end of the end of each study period, the researchers measured the levels and functioning of HDL cholesterol in each participant, and compared these results with blood counts established at the outset of the experiment.
"HDL is very small when it gets released into circulation,” study author Dr Kris-Etherton said. “It's like a garbage bag that slowly gets bigger and more spherical as it gathers cholesterol from cells and tissues before depositing them in the liver to be broken down.” On this journey, HDL particles grow bigger until they become mature.
The study highlighted a 19 percent increase in mature HDL particles in members of the group taking almonds. At the same time, participants whose weight was within normal ranges found their bodies' ability to transport excess cholesterol to the liver improved by 6.4 percent.
Rich in magnesium (anti-spasmodic) and potassium (anti-fluid retention), almonds are a healthy and filling snack rich in fiber and protein. A handful of ten almonds has approximately 100 calories.
The results of this study have been published in the Journal of Nutrition.