What almonds do to your cholesterol

Your body needs cholesterol.

It uses it to make hormones, make vitamin D and help you digest your food… not to mention the fact that it’s essentially brain food.

That’s why statins have so many side effects (like muscle damage, liver damage, blood sugar issues and dementia). They prevent your body from making the cholesterol it needs to stay healthy.

But once your body has enough cholesterol to do what it needs to do, the rest is just superfluous. And the most recent research has revealed it’s the small, dense LDL cholesterol particles that cause problems in your arteries. That’s where HDL cholesterol (also known as “good” cholesterol) comes in…

HDL cholesterol is like the cholesterol garbage man. It travels around your body collecting excess cholesterol from your cells and tissues and brings it back to your liver for disposal.

So when you have high HDL cholesterol levels, it’s good because it means you have a lot of little garbage men clearing out the waste. In fact, having more of these cholesterol garbage men also means having a lower risk for stroke and heart attack.

So the question is, how do you get more cholesterol garbage men on patrol in your body?

Easy… eat more almonds.

These tasty nuts not only increase the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body, but they also help HDL perform its garbage-collecting duties better than ever…

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The healthy way to boost HDL

A study from researchers at Penn State University found that adding more almonds to your diet could improve your HDL levels and help these little cholesterol collectors work more efficiently in your body.

The study included 48 men and women who had high LDL cholesterol levels. Over the course of 12 weeks, all study participants tried two different diets. Everyone tried a diet where they had a daily snack of almonds for six weeks. And for another six weeks, everyone tried a diet where they had a banana muffin daily.

After each six-week diet was over, researchers measured cholesterol levels to see if switching up these snacks had an impact on HDL. And it most certainly did…

Related: The sweet snack that slays cholesterol

The six-week period spent eating almonds paid off. Not only did participants have more HDL cholesterol, but they also had bigger HDL particles. Now, when it comes to HDL particles, the bigger the better because it means they’ve collected more excess cholesterol from your body.

“We were able to show that there were more larger particles in response to consuming the almonds compared to not consuming almonds,” said Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State and study researcher. “That would translate to the smaller particles doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re going to tissues and pulling out cholesterol, getting bigger, and taking that cholesterol to the liver for removal from the body.”

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The answer is almonds…

So when it comes to cholesterol, HDL is a good thing, but can almonds do anything about LDL, AKA “lousy” cholesterol?

According to a post by Dr. Elizabeth Klodas, a raw almond’s brown skin is especially high in antioxidants and studies have shown reductions in biomarkers of oxidative stress with regular raw almond consumption.

So that’s one way almonds have a role to play in fighting inflammation and oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol. For LDL to deposit in our arteries, it has to be oxidized. Reducing LDL oxidation reduces the chance that any of it actually causes us harm.

Also, researchers in another study found when a group of adults, ranging in age from 30 to 70, gave up their regular snacks and switched to almonds for two weeks, there was a definite drop in the plasma levels of LDL compared to the control (the usual snacks).

So, if you don’t eat almonds already, it’s time to start. Most experts advise a hefty handful of almonds daily. But avoid the salted ones. Too much sodium can create its own problems.

Dot it right and almonds can help you battle belly fat, give you the calcium you need for healthy bones and help you get a good night’s sleep, too!

Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!

Almonds may help boost cholesterol clean-up crew. — MedicalXpress.

Statin side effects: Weigh the benefits and risks. — Mayo Clinic. Retrieved

Snacking on whole almonds for 6 weeks improves endothelial function and lowers LDL cholesterol but does not affect liver fat and other cardiometabolic risk factors in healthy adults: the ATTIS study, a randomized controlled trial — The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.