Eating about 46 almonds a day can improve gut health, a study has found

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A small new study claims that eating almonds is good for gut health. Image credit: Gabriel (Gabi) Bukataru/Stoxy.
  • A new study finds that eating 56 grams of almonds daily—the equivalent of approximately 46 almonds—may improve gut health by boosting butyrate levels.
  • The study included three groups who replaced their usual snacks with whole almonds, ground almonds or an energy-equivalent control muffin.
  • The authors conclude that including almonds in the diet may be a way to increase fiber intake without causing stomach symptoms.

We are still learning about the human microbiome, 10–100 trillion microorganisms living in our bodies, mostly in the human intestines. Piece by piece, researchers are piecing together how this vast and tiny universe works and how it affects our health.

An important player in gut health appears to be butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that supports the health of the microbiome itself.

Dr. Alice Creedon explained to Medical News Today:

“Butyrate is important for gut health as it acts as the primary fuel source for colon cells, allowing them to function properly and optimally. It is also involved in signaling to the gut to start the process of absorbing nutrients.

“In addition,” said Dr. Creedon, “butyrate produced in the gut can enter the bloodstream, where it is involved in regulating health in other parts of the body, such as the liver, brain and lungs.”

Dr Creedon is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Nutrition Studies at King’s College London. She is also the first author of a new study investigating the value of almonds as a means of helping supply the microbiome with butyrate.

The study shows that eating a healthy handful of almonds each day promotes the production of butyrate.

Appears in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The research was funded by the Almond Board of California.

Dr. Creedon’s research documented the benefits of eating about 56 grams, or 2 ounces, of almonds daily—that’s about 46 almonds.

“Butyrate supports the intestinal barrier that keeps bacteria and other microbes from entering your bloodstream. In this way, butyrate can help reduce inflammation, manage conditions such as IBS [irritable bowel syndrome]and reduce gastrointestinal discomfort like bloating, said Alison Talman, a registered dietitian nutritionist. MNT.

“Butyrate is produced by fermentation of fiber in the colon. Therefore, increasing fiber in the diet, such as in almonds, increases the levels of butyrate, which has a positive effect on our gut health,” Thalmann said.

Talking about the nutritional value of almonds, Talman also noted that:

“Almonds are packed with a variety of nutrients in one serving, such as 4 grams of fiber, 13 grams of ‘good’ unsaturated fat, 1 gram of saturated fat and 50% of the daily value of vitamin E, and can easily be incorporated into our diet in a variety of ways.” .”

Still, these seeds come with some environmental health warnings. According to data provided by the Almond Board of California in 2016, approximately 80% of the world’s almonds are grown in California.

The crop consumes a significant portion of the state’s annual water supply, a concern for some in light of recent climate conditions. A 2019 study found that growing one almond requires about 12 liters of water.

However, the same study found that while almonds require significant amounts of water, “[i]In terms of dietary benefits, almonds were among the top three foods analyzed providing the greatest nutritional benefit per unit of weight.”

Participants in the present study were 87 healthy adult women and men aged 18 to 45 years. They self-reported eating snacks regularly, at least two a day, and that they were not on a moderate- or high-fat diet above the recommended 22 grams of fat per day.

For the purposes of the study, the scientists divided the participants into three groups, distinguished according to the food with which they replaced their usual snacks.

One group ate two servings of 28 grams of whole almonds each per day, while another group took two servings of 28 grams of ground almonds daily. The final control group ate muffins, which provided an equivalent amount of energy to the body as almonds. The trial period was 4 weeks.

At the end of the trial, the researchers found that the almond groups had significantly higher levels of butyrate in their feces than the control group, 24.1 micromoles per gram instead of 18.2 micromol per gram.

There was no significant difference between the groups in bowel symptoms, gut transit time – the time it takes for food to enter and leave the digestive system – or stool consistency.

In addition, all three groups had similar faecal abundance bifidobacteriawith no apparent differences in gut microbiota at the phylum or diversity level.

The study looked at the difference between eating whole or ground almonds in terms of butyrate production.

Individuals who ate whole almonds had 1.5 more bowel movements each week than those who ate ground almonds.

Dr. Creedon speculates why this might be the case: “Whole almonds differ from ground almonds in the amount of fat that reaches the colon. When we eat whole almonds, much of the fat escapes digestion and reaches the colon. In comparison, more of the fat in ground almonds is absorbed in the upper part [gastrointestinal] tract.”

“It is possible,” noted Dr. Creedon, “that the increased fat in the large intestine of the whole almond eaters served to facilitate bowel movements and increase the weight of the stools. Both of these effects can increase the frequency of bowel movements in these people. There is little research on the effect of fat on bowel frequency. Therefore, these findings warrant further investigation in future trials.

Surprisingly, said Dr. Creedon, “[f]after chewing, ground almonds have significantly smaller particles than chewed whole almonds.

“When we plugged the measured values ​​of these particle size distributions of whole and ground almonds into a mathematical model that predicted the amount of fat released from chewed almonds during digestion, we found that the model predicted that ground almonds released significantly more fat than whole almonds,” she added.

“These findings will be explained in more detail in another paper currently being prepared for publication.”

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