Put down that muffin and grab a handful of almonds, if you want to lose weight. That’s the latest word from Penn State researchers who found eating 1.5 ounces of almonds daily instead of a high-carb snack reduces belly fat — known scientifically as central adiposity — and cuts a number of heart disease risk factors.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found study participants who ate almonds as part of a healthy diet posted significant improvements in their LDL and total cholesterol levels, in addition to losing abdominal fat.
Although heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States and worldwide, it is estimated that at least 80% of premature deaths from cardiovascular disease can be avoided if diet and lifestyle risk factors are controlled.
"Our research found that substituting almonds for a high-carbohydrate snack improved numerous heart health risk factors, including the new finding that eating almonds reduced belly fat," says Claire Berryman, lead researcher of the study. "Choosing almonds as a snack may be a simple way to help fight the onset of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases."
The 12-week clinical study involved in 52 overweight, middle-aged adults with high total and LDL cholesterol levels. Participants ate cholesterol-lowering diets that were identical except that one group was given a daily snack of whole natural almonds, while the other group was given a banana muffin that provided the same number of calories.
The results showed the diet containing the almond snack, compared to the muffin snack, decreased abdominal fat, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol non-HDL-cholesterol and other blood fats. In addition, the diet with the muffin snack reduced HDL (good) cholesterol more than the almond diet.
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