First, a confession: I love almonds. I have them in my oatmeal for breakfast and in my smoothies to add some extra protein. But, even beyond my love for them as a favorite healthy snack, a new study has found that adding almonds to your diet can lower LDL (bad cholesterol) while maintaining and preserving HDL (good cholesterol).
Three diets were compared in this study: the almond-based diet and olive oil-based diet, and then the dairy-based diet as the control diet. 45 men and women with high blood pressure participated in this study, which was conducted for four weeks. The diets were regulated to have the same amount of total fat in each diet from the different sources (primarily almonds, olive oil, or dairy).
- Almonds reduced LDL cholesterol significantly, compared to the diets that were based with olive oil and dairy.
- The HDL (good cholesterol) didn’t decrease, but maintained.
- The olive oil diet produced no significant change.
- The dairy diet saw a significate increase in both LDL and HDL levels.
Whole plant foods are better
This study also indirectly shows the advantages of eating plant-based whole foods. Simply put: a seemingly innocuous animal product like milk inflate cholesterol numbers, while a plant-based refined food like olive oil made no significant difference. But the difference was made when the food product was both plant-based and whole. In this case, health was most improved and disease risk reduced.
A bit of practical advice
With all of this being said, almonds and most other nuts should not be eaten in excess. No singular food should be eaten in excess, for that matter. A handful or so daily is a reasonable rule of thumb for healthy nut intake.
Personally, I like to eat almonds raw but you can also roast a large batch of them the oven and bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. If you have a powerful blender on hand, whiz them up to make easy almond butter and slather it on breads and fruit.
Take a peek at a few of our favorite almond-inclusive recipes on our website!
- Almond Butter Sauce: A tangy, savory sauce for spring rolls or baked potatoes that can be made in one step!
- Roasted Almond Butter: A 3-ingredient recipe you’ll always want to have on hand for a healthy snack.
- Quick Chia-Nut Granola: Not a “granola” granola, this one omits the need for tons of added sugars like most granolas, and is completely full of awesome ingredients like chia seeds, raw almonds, and dried fruit.