In a study from King’s College London, scientists found the impact of whole and ground almonds on the composition of gut microbes.
The gut microbiome consists of thousands of micro-organisms living in the gut.
These play a vital role in digesting nutrients and can have a positive or negative influence on our health, including our digestive and immune systems.
The mechanisms of how the gut microbiomes have an impact on human health are still being investigated, but evidence suggests eating specific types of food can positively influence the types of bacteria in our gut or what they do in our gut.
In the study, the team tested 87 healthy adults who were already eating less than the recommended amount of dietary fiber and who snacked on typical unhealthy snacks (e.g. chocolate, crisps).
Participants were split into three groups: one group changed their snacks to 56 g of whole almonds a day, another for 56 g of ground almonds a day, and the control group ate energy-matched muffins as a control. The trial lasted four weeks.
The team found that butyrate was significantly higher among almond eaters compared to those who consumed the muffin. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that is the main source of fuel for the cells lining the colon.
When these cells function effectively, it provides an ideal condition for gut microbes to flourish, for the gut wall to be strong and not leaky or inflamed and for nutrients to be absorbed.
No big difference was observed in gut transit time—the time it takes for food to move all the way through the gut—however, whole-almond eaters had an additional 1.5 bowel movements per week compared to the other groups.
These findings suggest eating almonds could also benefit those with constipation.
Testing showed that eating whole and ground almonds improved peoples’ diets, having higher intakes of monosaturated fatty acids, fiber, potassium and other important nutrients compared to the control group.
The researchers think these findings suggest almond consumption may benefit bacterial metabolism in a way that has the potential to influence human health.
If you care about nutrition, please read studies about how Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about plant nutrient that could help reduce high blood pressure, and Vitamins A, C, and E could help reduce bone fracture risk.
The study was conducted by Professor Kevin Whelan et al and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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