~ Almonds Pack an Antioxidant Punch-New Research Demonstrates Almonds Help Fight the Signs of Aging

PR Newswire, 06-14-05

MODESTO, Calif., June 13, 2005 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- It has been said that beauty is only skin deep. But for almonds, the skin is as deep as you may need to go to get a real antioxidant punch. In a study, published in this month's Journal of Nutrition, the antioxidants in almond skins and the vitamin E in almonds were shown to work together as an antioxidant team. The study was co-authored by researchers at the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and the Almond Board of California.

Researchers tested the brown skins of almonds to determine their antioxidant content. Almond skins have been known to contain antioxidants called flavonoids, which are a large group of plant nutrients found in wine, tea, fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids can act as antioxidants in the body protecting cells from damage. They also can protect LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, from being attacked by oxygen or oxidized, which makes LDL stickier and more likely to clog arteries. Additionally, these plant nutrients are thought to protect the body from the effects of aging.

Almonds contain a unique combination of antioxidants. Some of the 20 flavonoids identified in this analysis have been detected in other foods, such the catechins found in green tea, and naringenin, found in citrus fruit. "We have identified a unique combination of flavonoids in almonds," said Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., senior scientist and director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Tufts University. "Further blood tests demonstrated that eating almonds with their skins significantly increases both flavonoids and vitamin E in the body. This could have significant health implications, especially as people age."

Almond antioxidants really make a heart healthy difference. It is one thing for a food to contain antioxidants but do they actually do anything in the body? The team at Tufts was able to test the flavonoids alone and then in combination with vitamin E, also naturally found in almonds, in the blood. The results suggest that vitamin E and the flavonoids in almond skins work synergistically to prevent LDL cholesterol from being oxidized. In fact, together vitamin E and almond flavonoids were more than twice as effective as when they were administered separately.

"The synergy between the flavonoids and vitamin E in almonds demonstrates how the nutrients in whole foods such as almonds can impact health," says Dr. Blumberg. "Given that almonds are among the richest sources of vitamin E in the diet and also provide an array of flavonoids, more research should be done to understand the healthful interaction of these plant nutrients in the human body and the role of almonds in aging."

Almonds have long been lauded for their heart health benefit. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (February 2005) found that eating almonds as part of a diet rich in heart healthy foods such as soy, viscous fiber and plant sterols can significantly reduce cholesterol levels as much as first generation statin drugs. And a study published this month in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that almonds, as part of that same heart healthy eating plan, can significantly reduce artery- damaging inflammation similar to statin drugs. The Food and Drug Administration recognizes the heart healthy benefit of almonds as well with a qualified health claim.

Almonds are nutritionally dense -- a quality emphasized in the government's latest Dietary Guidelines. Ounce for ounce, almonds are the most nutritionally dense nut. The recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 encourage Americans to choose nutritionally dense foods -- that is, to get the most nutrition possible out of the calories you eat. In addition to its flavonoids, a one-ounce, 164-calorie serving of almonds, or about a handful, is an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, and a good source of protein and fiber. It also offers heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, and iron.

Summary of Published Study:

Published: Journal of Nutrition, June 1, 2005

Research Organization: Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and the Almond Board of California. Supported by the USDA Agricultural Research Service under Cooperative Agreement No. 58-1950-4-401 and the Almond Board of California.

Authors: C. Chen, P. E. Milbury, K. Lapsley, and J. B. Blumberg

Study Description: Subjects were fed almond skin flavonoids and blood was collected to test antioxidant levels, antioxidant capacity, and the resistance of LDL to oxidation. Healthy volunteers were recruited to provide blood for tests of LDL oxidation.

Results: Almond skin flavonoids increased levels of antioxidants and antioxidant capacity in the blood. LDL oxidation was also decreased significantly in samples from human subjects. Vitamin E and almond flavonoids worked synergistically and caused a greater decrease in LDL oxidation, nearly two times as much as flavonoids or vitamin E alone.

Conclusions: The flavonoids and vitamin E in almonds work synergistically to promote antioxidant activity and may benefit heart health by reducing LDL oxidation. More research is now being done to understand the nature of the synergistic relationship between flavonoids and vitamin E in almonds.

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.

SOURCE Almond Board of California

CONTACT: Michael DeAngelis, MS, MPH, RD, +1-202-973-5830, michael.deangelis@porternovelli.com

for the Almond Board of California; or Stacey Kollmeyer of the Almond Board of

California, +1-209-343-3225, skollmeyer@almondboard.com

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