Eating almonds improves intestinal health, according to a study

Eating a handful of almonds a day significantly increases the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that supports gut health.

A team of researchers from King’s College London investigated the impact of whole and ground almonds on the composition of gut microbes. The study, published today in the American journal of clinical nutritionis funded by the California Almond Board.

The gut microbiome consists of thousands of microorganisms that live in the gut. These play a vital role in the digestion of nutrients and can have a positive or negative influence on our health, including our digestive and immune systems. The mechanisms of how gut microbiomes impact human health are still being investigated, but evidence suggests that eating specific types of food can positively influence the types of bacteria in our gut or what they do in our gut.

Researchers at King’s College London recruited 87 healthy adults who already ate less than the recommended amount of dietary fiber and ate typical unhealthy snacks (eg, chocolate, chips). The participants were divided into three groups: one group swapped their snacks for 56 g of whole almonds per day, another for 56 g of ground almonds per day, and the control group ate energy-matched muffins as a control. The trial lasted four weeks.

The researchers found that butyrate was significantly higher among those who ate almonds compared to those who ate muffins. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that is the main source of fuel for the cells that line the colon. When these cells are working effectively, they provide an ideal condition for intestinal microbes to flourish, for the intestinal wall to be strong from leaking or inflamed, and for nutrients to be absorbed.

No significant difference was seen in intestinal transit time (the time it takes for food to move through the entire intestine), however, the whole almond eaters had an additional 1.5 bowel movements per week compared to the other groups. These findings suggest that eating almonds might also benefit people with constipation.

The tests showed that eating whole and ground almonds improved people’s diets, with higher intakes of monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber, potassium and other important nutrients compared to the control group.

Lead author Professor Kevin Whelan, Head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London, said: “Part of the way the gut microbiota affects human health is through the production of long-chain fatty acids. short, such as butyrate.These molecules act as a fuel source for cells in the colon, regulate the absorption of other nutrients in the intestine, and help balance the immune system.We believe these findings suggest that almond consumption may benefit the bacterial metabolism in a way that has the potential to influence human health.”

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Materials provided by King’s College London. Note: content can be edited for style and length.

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