Now that the holiday season is upon us , chances are you might be noshing on almonds at the buffet table.
Eating almonds will not only lower your cholesterol, but also helps you lose weight. That's the word from two different scientific studies that may turn the lowly almond into the hottest new health food.
Almonds Help Block Carbs
A study published in Experimental Biology showed that almonds not only help you feel fuller longer, they appear to help block absorption of carbohydrates, and even block their own fat from being absorbed because of the way they are digested by the body. The mechanisms may help to explain why research is showing that almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat, do not lead to weight gain.
Researchers at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity found that overweight female subjects who ate two servings of almonds (300 calories worth) per day for ten days did not increase their weight. They concluded that the women found the snack to be filling, and so ate less at other times of the day.
One possible explanation for the effects is that the fat in almonds may not have been completely absorbed. This is consistent with a study that concluded that the cell walls of almonds act as a physical barrier to the absorption of fat.
The fat is then excreted from the body, thereby failing to contribute calories. This has led some to question whether all of the calories in almonds as determined by the bomb calorimeter are actually absorbed by the human body.
Eat almonds and lower your cholesterol
According to a study published in the Journal Metabolism, a diet high in almonds and other heart healthy foods achieved a 35 percent decrease in LDL or "bad" cholesterol in just two weeks. A proven heart healthy diet that was studied in a control group, lowered cholesterol just 12 percent.
It's been known for some time that individual foods, including almonds, oatmeal and foods high in soy protein, lower cholesterol. Now researchers from St.Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada and the University of Toronto led by
Dr. David Jenkins have determined that creating a dietary plan that includes all these foods in combination is just as effective as taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as statins.
The dietary plan that is packed with all these cholesterol-lowering foods is called the Portfolio plan. In addition to almonds, it includes margarine enriched with plant sterols, oats, barley, eggplant, okra, tofu, soy milk, and meat alternatives made from soy. Almonds are the only nut included in the Portfolio diet. They contain vegetable protein, plant sterols, and fiber and are rich in vitamin E.
Almonds have many health benefits but keep in mind, that almonds, like all nuts, come with come with a hefty calorie price tag. If you eat 1/ 3 cup daily this translates to about 250 calories and 22 grams of healthy fat. So keep this in mind when counting your calories.