Almonds May Alter Gut Bacteria for Improved Health
Gut bacteria have many critical functions, including supporting the GI tract and the immune system. A recent study has discovered that almonds and almonds skin may increase the populations of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the gut.
Participants in the study included 48 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 22. Over the course of six weeks they supplemented their diets with one of three interventions: 56 grams per day of roasted almonds, 10 grams per day of almond skins, or 8 grams per day of commercial fructooligosaccharides as a control.
At the conclusion of the study, the almonds and almond skins both significantly increased the Bifidobacterium ssp. And Lactobacillus spp. populations but had no effect on E. coli. This increase in the bacteria populations suggests that the almonds and almond skins acted as a prebiotic (food for the probiotic bacteria).
The researchers noted that the almond skins produced the changes quickly and those changes were sustained for two weeks after ingestion. However, the roasted almonds did not seem to have an effect until week six.
The researchers believe that these positive gut health effects are due to the 50% dietary fiber found in almond skins and the 12% dietary fiber found in roasted almonds allowing it to pass through undigested to the large intestine.
Researchers from Fuzhou University and the Almond Board of California conducted the study. It was published in the April 2014 issue of Anaerobe.
Previous studies have found that almonds may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. They’re also a great source of magnesium, manganese, and protein.
Almonds can easily be added to your daily diet as a mid-day snack, in breakfast cereal, or even sprinkled over a small serving of ice cream for dessert. Consider substituting a less healthy snack such as potato chips or cookies for a handful of almonds.