Almonds are an easy, tasty snack that is filling and healthy. A study found that almonds can increase good cholesterol if eaten every day.
Almonds Can Increase Good Cholesterol
Almonds have been known to contain healthy fats and cholesterols, but not a lot of specific research had been done on their effect on heart health. Researchers found that people’s HDL levels increased after eating 48g of almonds–about a handful–each day for over 6 weeks.
They compared the results to 6 weeks of eating banana muffins and their HDL levels declined after eating muffins. The functionality of the HDL cholesterol also improved, meaning that it can better fight off LDL (bad) cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol is good cholesterol that can actually help to lower LDL, which is the type of cholesterol that builds up in blood vessels and arteries and causes high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.
A professor of nutrition at Penn State University, Penny Kris-Etherton, said, “HDL is very small when it gets released into circulation… 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.”
HDL cholesterol is categorized into 5 “subpopulations” from a small preβ-1 to a bit larger α-1, which are also more mature. The researchers wanted to see if eating almonds would increase the α-1 particles.
When compared to the controlled diet, the almond diet boosted the α-1 amount by 19%. The diet also increased HDL function of people with normal weight by 6.4%.
Professor Kris-Etherton stated, “We were able to show that there were more larger particles in response to consuming the almonds compared to not consuming almonds… That would translate to the smaller particles doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re going to tissues and pulling out cholesterol, getting bigger, and taking that cholesterol to the liver for removal from the body.”
Almonds have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, but this study shows that almonds can increase good cholesterol as well. Almonds are easy to come by, inexpensive, and tasty. Be sure to eat unsalted almonds so you don’t undo the positive effects by adding too much sodium.