MODESTO, Calif., March 10, 2005 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- For those concerned about America's vitamin E shortfall, highlighted in the government's recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, consider grabbing a handful of almonds. A new study published in this month's Journal of the American Dietetic Association confirms that eating almonds significantly increases vitamin E levels in the plasma and red blood cells and simultaneously lowers cholesterol levels. This is the first study to demonstrate that eating almonds will result in higher vitamin E levels.
Researchers at Loma Linda University compared the effects of healthy men and women consuming three different diets for four weeks each, including a control diet that didn't include almonds, a low-almond diet and a high-almond diet. The low- and high-almond diets were designed by replacing 10 percent and 20 percent of total calories, respectively, with almonds -- that's about one to two handfuls of almonds a day. Study participants did not take multivitamins, vitamin E supplements, or other dietary supplements before or during the study. Changes in alpha-tocopherol vitamin E and cholesterol levels were evaluated after each four-week diet.
The study found that when people ate 10 percent of their calories from almonds, they increased their vitamin E levels by 13.7 percent. When participants consumed 20 percent of their calories from almonds, the effect was greater, increasing their vitamin E levels by 18.7 percent. Participants also reduced their total cholesterol by 5 percent and lowered their LDL or "bad" cholesterol by nearly 7 percent as a result of consuming a high-almond diet.
"This study is important because it shows that eating almonds can significantly boost levels of vitamin E in the diet and bloodstream," says Ella Haddad, DrPH, RD, an author of the study. "Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that defends your cells against damage on a daily basis and prevents artery-clogging oxidation of cholesterol. Eating a handful of almonds a day is a great way to get the vitamin E your body needs to stay healthy."
Most Americans do not get enough vitamin E in their diets. According to the National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) Dietary Reference Intake report for vitamin E, Americans are only consuming half of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 15 milligrams of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E a day, bringing attention to a vitamin E gap. The government's latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans further emphasized America's vitamin E shortfall. The Guidelines noted current vitamin E intake is "of concern," stressing the need for adults to get more vitamin E from foods in their diets.
Almonds are a leading food source of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E -- the only form recommended by NAS. A one-ounce handful provides 7.4 mg of vitamin E, or about 50 percent of the RDA, as well as healthy monounsaturated fats, dietary fiber, protein and important minerals. Adding a handful of almonds to the food choices you make throughout the day could close the gap between the recommendation and current consumption.
Summary of Published Study:
Published: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Vol. 105, No. 3, 449-454, March 2005
Research Organization: Loma Linda University
Study Title: Almonds in the diet simultaneously improve plasma alpha- tocopherol concentrations and reduce plasma lipids
Authors: Pera R. Jambazian, DrPH; Ella Haddad, DrPH, RD; Sujatha Rajaram, PhD; Jay Tanzman; Joan Sabate, MD, DrPH
Objective: Researcher assessed the dose-response effect of almond intake on plasma and red blood cell tocopherol concentrations in healthy adults enrolled in a randomized, crossover feeding trial
Subjects: Sixteen healthy men and women (8 men, 8 women) were selected from those participating in a randomized feeding trial investigating lipid responses to graded almond intakes.* Those selected did not take multivitamins, vitamin E supplements, or other dietary supplements before or during the study. Pertinent characteristics were age (between the ages of 28 and 54), body weight (150.58 to 162.48 lbs), and body mass index (calculated as kg/m(2)) 21.6 to 28.8.
Study Description: After a 2-week run-in period, participants were fed three diets for four weeks each: a control diet, a low-almond diet, and a high-almond diet, in which almonds contributed 0 percent, 10 percent and 20 percent of total energy, respectively. Changes in blood tocopherol levels were assayed by high pressure liquid chromatography.
Results: Incorporating almonds into the diet helped meet the revised Recommended Dietary Allowance of 15 mg/day of alpha-tocopherol and increased lipid-adjusted plasma and red blood cell alpha-tocopherol concentrations. A significant dose-response effect was observed between percent energy in the diet from almonds and plasma ratio of alpha-tocopherol to total cholesterol.
*Sabate J, Haddad E, Tanzman JS, Jambazian P, Rajaram S. Serum lipid response to a graded enrichment of a Step 1 diet with almonds: A randomized feeding trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003; 77: 1379-1384.
The Almond Board of California administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. Established in 1950, the Board's charge is to promote the best quality almonds, California's largest tree nut crop. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit http://www.AlmondsAreIn.com.