Kolkata: Health experts discuss benefits of consuming almond
Kolkata: With an aim to engage with health professionals, Indian Dietetic Association, Bengal Chapter, and the Almond Board of California hosted a session on the benefits of consumption of almonds.
According to two studies funded by Almond Board of California, almonds play a vital role in maintaining blood sugar, daily calorie Intake, gut microbiota functionality, muscle recovery and reduce fatigue from exercise.
During the session, Ritika Samaddar, Regional Head – Dietetics, Max Healthcare emphasized on the findings of the research studies. The session was moderated by Malabika Datta, Head Dietitian, B.M. Birla Heart Research Centre and Convener, IDA Bengal Chapter.
In a recent study, led by Professor Kevin Whelan from King’s College London, researchers set out to determine the impact whole almonds and ground almonds have on the composition of gut microbiota, gut microbiota diversity and gut transit time.
The study investigated how gut microbes break down almonds to produce butyrate, a specific microbiota product associated with several health benefits. Researchers explored the prebiotic effect of almonds and the potential impact almond processing had on this effect in a free-living, 4-week, 3-arm, parallel-design randomized controlled trial.
Eighty-seven healthy adults participated and received either 56 g/d whole almonds, 56 g/d ground almonds, or an isocaloric snack muffin as the control. Baseline and endpoint measures included gut microbiota composition and diversity, short-chain fatty acids, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gut transit time, stool output, and gut symptoms (n=87).
A subgroup (n=31) was measured for the impact of almond form, ground or whole, on particle size distribution (PSD) along with predicted lipid release.
The study found that the participants who consumed almonds experienced significant increases in butyrate, a short chain fatty acid found in the colon that helps in promoting gut health, as well as increased stool frequency.
Almonds contain dietary fiber which have shown to increase butyrate concentrations in the guts of healthy adults, as a result of which, almonds were well tolerated and did not lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, which indicates almond consumption may be a way to increase fiber without causing any adverse effects.
Commenting on the study, Ritika Samaddar, Regional Head – Dietetics, Max Healthcare, Delhi said, "A healthy gut is crucial for maintaining a good immune system and overall wellbeing. Various factors can lead to imbalance in the gut which can result in the increase of bad bacteria in comparison to the good bacteria. This can have several harmful implications on one's health. To maintain good gut health, it is important to be cognizant of the foods that we eat. The study indicates almond consumption may be a way to increase fiber which is suggestive of positive alterations to microbiota functionality thereby having a potential to influence human health positively.”
A study by Dr. David C. Nieman DrPH, FACSM, Professor and Principal Investigator, Human Performance Laboratory, Appalachian State University found that snacking on almonds reduced feelings of fatigue and tension, increased leg and lower back strength during recovery, and decreased muscle damage during the first day of recovery. In this trial, researchers included 64 non-obese adults with an average age of 46 years.
Participants were included if they exercised less than three (3) sessions per week.
The experiment used a randomized, parallel group design, where treatment participants (n = 33) ate 57 g (2 ounces) almonds daily, split between morning and afternoon, for 4 weeks. Control participants (n = 31) consumed a calorie-matched cereal bar, also in split doses.
The study found that almonds consumers experienced reduced post-exercise fatigue and tension as well as higher levels of leg-back strength; lower levels of serum creatine kinase, which is a marker of muscle damage, immediately and one day after exercise; higher levels of the oxylipin 12,13-DiHOME and lower levels for oxylipin 9,10-DiHOME; increased urine levels of some phenolics derived in the large intestine; and some improvement to mood state following the intervention.
Commenting on the study by Nieman, Ritika Samaddar added, “Physical activity in every form is of utmost importance for a healthy lifestyle. It is recommended for healthy adults to engage in 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity in a week to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For an efficient work-out session, it is necessary to consume the right type of foods which provide the required energy and help the body reduce the post-exercise fatigue. This study aptly throws light on how consuming almonds during the day helped in retaining strength and reduced post exercise fatigue after a work-out session. In addition to this, the research also showcased that almond consumption has lower levels of serum creatine kinase (marker of muscle damage) and improved mood states post exercise. Basis the results of the study, I strongly advise that almonds should be consumed as part of the sports nutrition strategies devised to help people recover better from exercise.”
Research funded by Almond Board of California show that almonds are the perfect healthy snack and should be a part of our daily routine. Almonds provide fiber 3.5 g per 100g and 15 essential nutrients including (per 100g / 30g serving): magnesium (270 / 81 mg), potassium (733 / 220 mg), and vitamin E (25.6 / 7.7 mg), making them a perfect nutrient-rich snack. One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of monounsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat. A healthy lifestyle sustained over time will help in reducing the risk of lifestyle diseases, which are major health concerns in India. Small dietary and lifestyle changes can make a healthy difference to our lives.