Almonds are among the world’s most popular tree nuts. They are highly nutritious and rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They are delicious to snack on to say the least, and it turns out they are – be it whole or ground – good for improving health when it comes to the composition of gut microbes, according to researchers from King’s College London.
When it comes to improving gut health, diet experts often suggest trying out probiotic foods like yoghurt and kimchi. Yet, there may be another food to add to that list – almonds.
Researchers from King’s College London have investigated the impact of whole and ground almonds on the composition of gut microbes and found that eating a handful of the nuts each day significantly increases the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that promotes gut health.
“Part of the way in which the gut microbiota impact human health is through the production of short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate,” said lead author professor Kevin Whelan. “These molecules act as a fuel source for cells in the colon, they regulate absorption of other nutrients in the gut, and help balance the immune system. We think these findings suggest almond consumption may benefit bacterial metabolism in a way that has the potential to influence human health.”
For the study, the team recruited 87 healthy adults who were already eating less than the recommended amount of dietary fibre and who snacked on typical unhealthy snacks. For four weeks, a third of the group changed their snacks to 56 grams of whole almonds a day, the second third to 56 grams of ground almonds a day, and the final third to energy-matched muffins as a control. Accordingly, the researchers found that butyrate was significantly higher among almond eaters compared to those who consumed the muffin.
“Testing showed that eating whole and ground almond improved peoples’ diets, having higher intakes of monosaturated fatty acids, fibre, potassium and other important nutrients compared to the control group,” the authors added.
Full study results have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.