Vascular dysfunction is one of the major causes of cardiovascular (CV) mortality and increases with age. Vascular dysfunction is a disorder of the vascular system characterized by poor function of the blood vessels. Epidemiological studies suggest that Mediterranean diets and high nut consumption reduce cardiovascular disease risk and mortality while increasing plasma α-tocopherol.
In this new study Professor Helen Griffiths, PhD, Professor in Biomedical Sciences and Executive Dean of the School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston University in Birmingham, UK and colleagues examined whether almond supplementation can improve oxidative stress markers and CV risk factors over 4 weeks in young and middle-aged men.
/In order to examine almond supplementation researchers tested the effects on healthy young and middle-aged men as well as on a group of young men with cardiovascular risk factors including having high blood pressure or being overweight, consumed 50 g almond/day for 4 weeks. A control group maintained habitual diets over the same period.
At the end of the study period, the group eating an almond-enriched diet had higher levels of antioxidants (alpha-tocopherol) in their blood stream, and systolic blood pressure reduced significantly after 50 g almonds/day for 4 weeks, but diastolic blood pressure reduced only in healthy men.
In their conclusion the researchers write “a short-term almond-enriched diet can increase plasma α-tocopherol and improve vascular function in asymptomatic healthy men aged between 20 and 70 years without any effect on plasma lipids or markers of oxidative stress.”
Almonds are known to contain a range of beneficial nutrients including vitamin E, magnesium and vitamin B2 and healthy fats, fiber which increases the sense of fullness, and flavonoids which may have antioxidant properties.
The researchers believe that is probable that the combination of these nutrients working together create overall health benefits instead of just one particular nutrient in isolation.
According to Professor Griffiths, "Our study confirms that almonds are a superfood. Previous studies have shown that they keep your heart healthy, but our research proves that it isn't too late to introduce them into your diet -- adding even a handful (around 50g) every day for a short period can help. You could replace a daytime snack with a bag of almonds or add them to your regular meals like porridge or muesli to help reduce your risk of heart problems."
This study is published in Free Radical Research
According to the Mayo Clinic people who consume nuts as part of a heart healthy diet can lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol in their blood. High LDL is a primary cause of heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends eating 4 servings of unsalted, unoiled nuts a week. A serving size is a small handful or 1.5 ounces of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter.