WASHINGTON, May 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As people continue to look for the magic diet that can help maintain weight while preventing chronic diseases, scientists continue to learn more about the role almonds may play as a simple choice that can make a difference in overall health. Previous studies have revealed the numerous health benefits of eating a handful of almonds -- from lowering LDL or "bad" cholesterol to potentially reducing the risk of diabetes. (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20030228/DCF017 ) Today, new preliminary research presented at the Experimental Biology (EB) Annual Meeting in Washington, explores the effect of almonds as they travel through the body. From chewing and satiety to digesting and nutrient absorption, this new research indicates that the health benefits of almonds take affect the moment they enter your mouth. Chew on this: Almonds may help with weight maintenance Previous studies have observed that despite the addition of a handful of almonds to a daily diet, subjects do not gain weight. Thus researchers have been studying the chewing and digestion of almonds to learn more about how the nutrients from almonds are absorbed and why eating almonds is so satisfying. One new study at EB showed the effect of chewing almonds on the availability of nutrients. Healthy subjects were asked in random order to chew a half-ounce of almonds 10, 25 or 40 times before swallowing. The study found that subjects who chew fewer times, or as they would under normal conditions, absorb fewer calories compared to subjects who chew almonds 40 times. These findings will help to expand on previous research showing why almonds can be part of a weight maintaining diet. "Our study shows that the calories we can use from almonds are less than predicted. The efficiency with which we chew almonds impacts how many calories we absorb from them," said study author, Richard Mattes, PhD, RD, from Purdue University. "This is consistent with previous research showing that some of almonds' fat is not absorbed because it is trapped in the unbroken cells. Therefore, the estimated calories listed on the food label are more than the amount actually available in our bodies." A closer look: Almonds protect cells from oxidation Previous studies have also shown that almonds contain an array of antioxidant compounds, in levels similar to those in many fruits and vegetables (1). Antioxidants serve to deactivate free radicals in the body that can damage cells and potentially lead to problems such as heart disease, cancer and stroke. Building on these past findings, studies presented at EB sought to determine whether or not almonds could enhance antioxidant defense in the body and potentially prevent the risk of chronic disease. In the first study, researchers examined the effects of daily almond consumption in young male smokers, age 18-25, who normally smoked anywhere from five to 20 cigarettes per day. The participants were asked to add three ounces of almonds to their daily diet. After just four weeks, the group eating almonds had enhanced the antioxidant activity in their blood and reduced oxidative damage to their DNA. The second study, conducted in the laboratory, looked at how polyphenols in almond skins work together with vitamin C to help promote antioxidant defenses. The results of these experiments indicate that a synergy can exist between these nutrients. The antioxidants in almonds plus vitamin C have a greater effect in preventing damage from free radicals -- rogue elements in the body that can destroy cells and potentially lead to problems such as heart disease and stroke. "Together these studies help to show us how the antioxidants from almonds are being used by the body and how they protect our cells from free radical damage," said Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. "Although specific disease endpoints were not studied, preventing the oxidation of cellular lipids and DNA can contribute to a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer, respectively." A one-ounce, 160-calorie handful of almonds is an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, a good source of protein and fiber, and offers potassium, calcium, phosphorous, iron, and monounsaturated fat. For More Information For additional information about almonds, including easy recipes and snack ideas, visit http://www.AlmondsAreIn.com. Abstract Titles as Presented at Experimental Biology 2007 "Almond skin polyphenols scavenge DPPH, HOCl, ONOO-, and O2-. radicals and enhance quinone reductase." C.-Y. Chen, K. Hamel, J. Blumberg. Antioxidants Research Lab, USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA "The effect of mastication on appetite and lipid bioaccessibility." B. Cassady, J. Hollis, R. Mattes. Department of Foods and Nutrition, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN "Almond consumption reduces oxidative DNA damage and lipid peroxidation in young male smokers." X. Jia, C.-Y. Chen, J. Blumberg, N. Li1. National Institute for Nutrition and Food Safety, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing, People's Republic of China, Antioxidants Research Lab, USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA "Temporal Effects of Almond Skin Polyphenols on Plasma Biomarkers of Redox Status." P. Milbury, C.-Y. Chen, J. Blumberg. Antioxidants Research Lab, USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA Attention, Editors: Full abstracts available upon request Contact Lesley Shiery at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 973-1382 to: Obtain photos of a handful of almonds. Obtain easy, healthy almond recipes, along with full-color recipe photos. The Almond Board of California administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. Established in 1950, the Board's charge is to promote the best quality almonds, California's largest tree nut crop. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit http://www.AlmondsAreIn.com. (1) Milbury PE, Chen CY, Dolnikowski GG, Blumberg JB. Determination of Flavonoids and Phenolics and Their Distribution in Almonds. J Agric Food Chem July 2006; 54(14):5027-33.
SOURCE Almond Board of California