Participants included adult men and women between the ages of 30 and 70 years old, all of whom were at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
After two weeks of eating traditional snacks, the participants were split into two groups. One group ate whole almonds, while the other continued eating the control snack (sweet and savory mini muffins) for a remaining four weeks. Both snacks provided a 20% total calorie intake.
At the end of the six weeks, researchers measured the cardiometabolic health markers in both groups.
Almond snackers showed an improvement in endothelial function, which according to the study is “a key factor in the initiation, progression, and disease manifestation of atherosclerosis.” Atherosclerosis is characterized by a buildup of fats and cholesterol in the arterial walls and can lead to other cardiovascular problems, if left untreated.
The almond group also lowered their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also called bad cholesterol. This is likely because snacks high in saturated fats were replaced with almonds, which are rich in unsaturated fats, phytosterols, and fiber, the study explains.
Overall, the almond-eating group lowered their cardiovascular disease risk by 32%.