Almonds have long been one of the ingredients that are known for its power-packed health benefiting properties. Eat them raw, soaked or simply use them in salads, smoothies, shakes and even desserts, these nutty delights enhance the flavour of a dish and render the crunch quotient as well.
Touted as one of the most beneficial ingredients for health, an ancient custom is to soak almonds overnight and have them every morning. Adding more to the incredible properties of the nut, researchers from Penn State found that almonds may not only help boost levels of “good” or HDL cholesterol, but also improve the way it removes cholesterol from the body.
Depending on how much cholesterol it has collected, HDL cholesterol is categorized into five “subpopulations,” which range from the very small prebeta-1 to the larger, more mature alpha-1. The researchers hoped that eating almonds would result in more alpha-1 particles, which would signal improved HDL function.
In the controlled-feeding study, 48 men and women with elevated LDL cholesterol participated in two six-week diet periods. In both, their diets were identical except for the daily snack. On the almond diet, participants received 43 grams, about a handful, of almonds a day. During the control period, they received a banana muffin instead.
The researchers found that compared to the control diet, the almond diet increased alpha-1 HDL, when the particles are at their largest size and most mature stage, by 19 percent. Additionally, the almond diet improved HDL function by 6.4 percent, in participants of normal weight. An increase in this particular HDL subpopulation is meaningful, Kris-Etherton explained, because the particles have been shown to decrease overall risk of cardiovascular disease.