When it’s time for a snack, what do you tend to reach for? A bag of chips or crackers? Granola bars or a cookie? While they may be delicious, those snack foods won’t benefit you the way almonds can. Researchers at Penn State have discovered a crucial link between almonds and good cholesterol that helps prevent heart disease. Surely that’s enough to convince you to keep a bag of almonds handy!
Research has already indicated that almonds lower LDL cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, which is a risk for heart disease. Penn State sought to determine whether or not almonds increase HDL cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, which is a good cholesterol that helps prevent heart disease. The research team gathered a group of 48 men and women and observed them during two six-week periods. During the first six week period, the participants followed a diet plan that included a handful of almonds every day as a snack. During the second six week period, participants followed the same diet plan but substituted the almond snack for a banana muffin. When cholesterol levels were examined and compared to the base measurements, researchers determined that while consuming the almonds, the participants’ HDL levels increased by 19% and HDL function increased by 9%.
Functions of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a substance in each of your cells that has many functions. One of those functions is building the cells in your body. They are then carried through the bloodstream and attach themselves to proteins called lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins, low-density and high-density.
Low-density lipoproteins can build up in the blood vessels causing passageways to narrow and blood clots to get trapped. This often results in stroke or heart attack, giving LDL cholesterol the name of “bad cholesterol.” Poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, and diabetes contribute to high LDL cholesterol and put you at risk for heart disease.
High-density lipoprotein is considered “good cholesterol” because it picks up extra cholesterol in your body and takes it to your liver to be processed. HDL is small when it is initially released into your body and it gets larger in size as it collects cholesterol from your arteries and tissue before it is broken down in your liver. People who have higher levels of HDL are typically at a lower risk for heart disease and stroke.
The Facts about Almonds
The research at Penn State found that HDL particles were larger when the participants were consuming a handful of almonds on a daily basis. This indicates that not only did HDL cholesterol levels increase, but its function increased as well. Almonds also contain good fats and fiber to help with digestion, as well as vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects body tissue from damage. So, ladies, it’s time to stock up on almonds! Grab a handful every day to curb your afternoon hunger and fuel your body with good cholesterol in the proces.
Concerned about your cholesterol levels? Our doctors at The Woman’s Clinic can help you determine the best course of action to keep your LDL cholesterol low and your HDL cholesterol high. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.