Almond Joy

An almond-enriched diet may help reduce risk of diabetes and heart disease

(RxWiki News) Findings from a scientific study, conducted at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, demonstrate that eating almonds can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Published in the June 2010 Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the study explains the health benefits of an almond-enriched diet.

Close to 16 million Americans today live with prediabetes, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. According to the study, an almond-enriched diet may help those with prediabetes by decreasing LDL-cholesterol levels and improving insulin sensitivity, two determinants for risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Certain nutrients in almonds, such as fiber and unsaturated fat, have been shown to reduce these risk factors.

Dr. Michelle Wien, Assistant Research Professor in Nutrition at Loma Linda University's School of Public Health and Principal Investigator for this study, and her colleagues examined how an almond-enriched diet would affect the progression of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adults with prediabetes. They reported positive results in regards to health promotion and disease prevention. A 16 week analysis of 65 adults with prediabetes divided into two groups - one group with an almond-enriched diet, the other with a regular diet - found that those who consumed the almond-enriched diet showed improved insulin sensitivity and lower LDL-cholesterol levels. The authors stipulate, however, that although participants in both groups received the same instructions for consumption of calories from carbohydrates, the almond group reported less carbohydrate intake.

Says Dr. Wien: "We have made great strides in chronic disease research from evidence of effective treatment to evidence of effective prevention. It is promising for those with risk factors for chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular ideas, that dietary changes may help to improve factors that play a potential role in the disease development." She adds, "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."

According to the study, a 16 week diet consisting of 20 percent of total calories from almonds improves LDL-cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity.

Beyond adding to a body of work that shows almonds contribute to heart health, this study shows that almonds both aid in disease management as well risk reduction for some chronic diseases.

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Review Date: 
December 16, 2010