One of the main complications that comes with heart disease is impaired blood vessel function. That means blood vessels are stiffening over time (and don’t regulate blood flow and therefore blood pressure as well as they should), can be (partially) blocked with plaques and in general the quality of the blood vessel walls has been compromised. Based on previous research, it was suggested almond consumption could improve blood vessel function through the supply of vitamin E, which is a natural antioxidant that could improve blood vessel function, and unsaturated fats that encourage positive changes in the body’s fat metabolism. This was investigated in a four-week study of young and middle-aged men. These men were asked to eat 50 grams of almonds (a handful) a day for four weeks. At the end of the study, the blood levels of vitamin E of the tested men significantly increased, blood flow through the vessels improved and blood pressure decreased. Almonds are not a miracle food but can be a part of a healthy diet in limited amounts (due to their fat content, we shouldn’t eat more than a handful a day) – they are a good source of vitamin E, healthy fats, protein, fibre and calcium.
Choudhury K, Clark J and Griffiths HR, 2014. An almond-enriched diet increases plasma a -tocopherol and improves vascular function but does not affect oxidative stress markers or lipid levels. Free Radical Research. 48 (5) 599–606.