Researchers from Taipei Medical University and Tufts University collaborated on new research presented at EB that examined the effects of almonds on risk factors for cardiovascular disease among 20 Chinese type 2 diabetic patients with mildly hyperlipidemia and treated with oral hypoglycemics. Researchers measured body fat, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, oxidative stress, blood sugar, insulin and inflammatory biomarkers. The 12-week clinical trial had subjects randomly assigned to receive either a NCEP Step II diet or the almond-based diet, which was the NCEP Step II diet that added almonds to replace 20 percent of the total calorie intake. At the end of the study researchers found that the almond diet led to a significant decrease in body fat by 1%, total cholesterol by 8%, and LDL cholesterol by 13%. Most importantly, researchers found that inclusion of almonds decreased blood glucose and insulin and inflammation. Alpha-Tocopherol or vitamin E levels in the blood increased, as well as the resistance of LDL cholesterol against oxidation, when tissues were tested in a laboratory environment. The NCEP Step II diet also improved cardiovascular risk factors. The changes, however, were not as clinically meaningful as those noted with the almond diet.

Twenty three almonds (1 serving) contains over 30% of the recommended daily value.

Dr. Oliver Chen, lead study author from Tufts University said, “The results of this study were very interesting, suggesting that more research needs to be conducted to evaluate the benefit of almonds on cholesterol and insulin resistance among individuals with type 2 diabetes from different populations.” He emphasized that more research will “provide us with a better understanding of how day-to-day diet, genetics and lifestyle factors may influence the overall contribution of almonds to the diet.”

Study at a Glance:

Subjects: Twenty Chinese type 2 diabetic patients with mild hyperlipidemia and treated with oral hypoglycemics.

Methods: A 12-week crossover clinical trial where subjects were randomly assigned to receive either a NCEP Step II diet or an Almond Diet. The Almond Diet was the NCEP Step II diet, except that almonds were added to replace 20 percent of the total caloric intake. Researchers measured body fat, glucose, insulin, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, oxidative stress and inflammatory biomarkers.

Results: Researchers found that the almond diet led to a significant decrease in body fat by 1%, total cholesterol by 8%, LDL cholesterol by 13%, blood sugar by 6.7%, and insulin by 7.9%. Changes were also noted among the inflammatory biomarkers measured, as well as the resistance of LDL against oxidation, when tissues were tested in a laboratory environment. Researchers also found an increase in alpha-tocopherol or vitamin E levels in the blood. The NCEP Step II diet also resulted in changes in cardiovascular risk factors. The changes however were not as clinically meaningful as those noted with the almond diet.

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