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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lower Your Cholesterol by Eating Almonds

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Lower Your Cholesterol by Eating Almonds

Almonds are a high-fat food with the unexpected application of lowering cholesterol. Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto conducted an experiment involving twenty-seven men and women with high cholesterol who agreed to snack only on foods that the hospital provided for thirty days. One-third of the study participants sate a 150-calorie low-fat whole-wheat cookie three times a day, one-third ate a 150-calorie snack that contained equal calories from whole wheat and almonds three times a day, and one-third ate a 150-calorie snack that contained only almonds three times a day.

At the end of the month, none of the study participants had gained or lost weight. In the whole-wheat group, LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels were the same at the end of the study as at the beginning of the study, and the half-wheat/half-almond group experienced an average reduction of 4 percent in LDL cholesterol levels and 9 percent reductions in total cholesterol levels. Meanwhile, the almonds-only group experienced 8 percent reductions in LDL cholesterol and 12 percent reductions in total cholesterol.

A similar study at Louisiana State University, in which participants were given 400 calories in almonds a day for a month found reductions of 21 percent in LDL and 29 percent in total cholesterol. Researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia found that almonds lower cholesterol even if they are consumed in candy, but by only 7 to 9 percent.

The beneficial effect of almonds on cholesterol seems to be due to their high content of unsaturated fat. Despite their high-fat content, eating almonds on a regular basis does not lead to weight gain. Nutritionists at Loma Linda University in California instructed a volunteer group of non-athlete men and women aged twenty-five to seventy-five who were not on a heavy exercise program to eat 320 calories in almonds in addition to their regular intake of food every day for a year.

Food diaries showed that participants ate more 50-150 total calories a day when they ate almonds, although most had a diminished appetite for other high-fat foods.

At the end of the year, participants were weighed and measured, and underwent blood tests. One of the surprising results of the study was that participants who were overweight when the study began lost weight, despite taking in more calories when they ate almonds. The only participants in the study who gained weight-by eating more calories-were the few who were underweight at the beginning of the study. Surprised by this result, the researchers did blood tests for the presence of plant lectins that confirmed that participants actually ate the almonds.

The cholesterol-lowering compounds in the almonds are the monounsaturated fatty acids found in the oil. Almond oil, which is available in grocery stores and can be used in place of other cooking oils or fats, also lowers cholesterol. Almond oil also contains vitamin E, which may reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, a key event in the development of cardiovascular disease. Other nutrients important to cardiovascular health are found in the non-fatty part of the nut and, therefore, are not found in almond oil. The cholesterol-lowering effects of eating whole almonds are greater than those from the consumption of an equivalent amount of almond fat supplied as almond oil.

And that's not all the benefits of almonds in heart health. Almond kernels are rich in the amino acid arginine, a dietary precursor for nitric oxide, which keeps blood vessels pliable and open. Almonds are a significant source of the trace element magnesium. A 2-ounce serving of almonds contains about one-third of the body's daily requirements of this nutrient. (Even if you take magnesium supplement, you should eat some magnesium-rich foods such as almonds to provide a steady supply of the element to your body.) Almonds also contain cardioprotective copper in significant concentration.

Eat almonds raw or roasted. You might try almond butter as a substitute for peanut butter. Almond butter contains all the nutritional value of whole almonds. The oil in almond butter sometimes rises to the top of the jar, but you can just stir it back in before use.

Almond milk also contains all of almonds' nutrients. It's made from ground almonds suspended in water and usually sweetened with rice syrup. Drink almond milk like milk or use to make fruit smoothies. Almond milk goes exceptionally well with apricots. There's no lactose in almond milk, so you can drink it even if you are lactose intolerant.

About The Author:
Read about Diet & Lowering Cholesterol and Lowering Cholesterol with Red Yeast Rice. Robert Rister is the author or co-author of nine books on natural health.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Robert_Rister

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