Digesting the Facts: New Research Supports Almonds' Role in Weight Maintenance and Disease Protection

New studies examine the various ways almonds benefit the body

May 01, 2007, 01:00 ET from Almond Board of California

    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
     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
     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 lesley.shiery@porternovelli.com or (202)
 973-1382 to:
     Obtain photos of a handful of almonds.
     Obtain easy, healthy almond recipes, along with full-color recipe
     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
     (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