When thinking about the benefits of almonds, “heart-healthy” and “protein-packed” probably come to mind. But what about how the nuts affect metabolism, insulin levels, and inflammation? A recent study, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, gives insight into that very question—and, spoiler: Snacking on almonds can enhance metabolic health!
How almonds support metabolic health.
The study looked at the effects of almond consumption in 275 young adults between 16 and 25 years old living in Mumbai, India. Each of the participants had metabolic markers that indicate they have prediabetes. The researchers set out to determine how nutritional intervention via healthy snacks could support their metabolic health.
The participants were randomly split into two groups: One group was given 56 grams of raw almonds daily (approximately 46 nuts), while the control group was given a snack made of whole wheat flour, chickpea flour, salt, and Indian spices. Aside from eating their respective snacks twice a day, the participants were asked to maintain their regular lifestyle, including diet and exercise patterns.
The study was conducted over the course of 90 days. At the end of the trial, the almond group showed a significant reduction in glycosylated hemoglobin levels (aka HbA1c, a marker for glucose control) and total cholesterol, as well as an increase in good cholesterol levels. Though not statistically significant, the almond group also saw a reduction in the inflammatory marker IL-6.
Including almonds in a balanced diet has the potential to be a nutritious natural-food-based strategy for lowering the risk of prediabetes, the study states. “However, it may be worthwhile to conduct a long-term study that would examine the effect of almonds along with dietary counseling and/or physical exercise,” the authors add. While the study homed in on almonds, in particular, other studies have found that sardines, as well as diets rich in vitamin C, carotenoids, and whole grains, may also lower the risk of developing.