The more we learn about almonds, the more they continue to amaze. Take prebiotics, for instance. Ongoing research hypothesises that almonds may have a prebiotic effect that can provide benefits supportive of the GI tract in maintaining immunity and overall well-being.
The human gut or gastrointestinal (GI) tract plays a key role in promoting overall health, with approximately 80% of immunity starting there.1 It's also where prebiotics come into play. Prebiotics are non-digestible food substances that act as food for ’good‘ bacteria in the GI tract as the human body constantly tries to keep a perfect balance.2,3
While more research is needed to prove the prebiotic effect of almonds, this is just one more reason to introduce them to your patients, because when their bodies function better, they feel better, and so do you.
Here are some details about the emerging research that has examined the role almonds may play in gut health.
- An in vitro study, conducted at the Institute of Food Research, Norwich, UK, using a model gut to digest almonds, examined the prebiotic effects of two types of almonds, finely ground and defatted-finely ground compared to commercial oligosaccharides (a recognised prebiotic).
- Researchers found that the finely ground almonds increased levels of two types of probiotic: bifidobacteria and Eubacterium rectale.
- These preliminary results need to be replicated in human models before any conclusive links to improved gut health can be made.
- Read more about this study in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology journal.4 http://aem.asm.org/cgi/content/full/74/14/4264?view=long&pmid=18502914
- Another in vitro study, using the same model gut as the study above, examined the role cell walls play in the bioaccessibility of nutrients found in almonds, specifically lipid, protein, and vitamin E. Natural almonds, blanched almonds, finely ground, and defatted-finely ground almonds were digested.
- Further research is still needed to expand upon the results of this preliminary study in order to better understand how this may impact human health.
- The complete research article can be found in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.5 http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi/jafcau/2008/56/i09/abs/jf073393v.html
While further studies are still needed to explore almonds and gut health, research has already established the important role of fibre in maintaining a healthy digestive tract by helping with regularity. Just obe ounce of appetizing California Almonds provides 3.5 grams of fiber, making whole natural almonds high in fiber .6 7 It's just one more reason to make sure your patients know how much one ounce of almonds a day can do for them.
1. Rosenbaum M. Digestion & Immunity. Revolution Health Access at http://www.revolutionhealth.com/conditions/digestive/digestive-health/health-basics/digestion-immunity Oct 13, 2008.
2. Get The Facts: An Introduction to Probiotics. The US National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine. Accessed at http://nccam.nih.gov/health/probiotics/ October 13, 2008.
3. Roberfroid MB. “Prebiotics and Probiotics: Are they Functional Foods?” Am J Clin Nutr 2000 June;71 (suppl):1682S-7S.
4. Mandalari G, Nueno-Palop C, Bisignano G,Wickham M.S.J. “Potential Prebiotic Properties of Almond Seeds.” Appl Environ Microbiol 2008 July;74, 4264-4270. http://aem.asm.org/cgi/content/full/74/14/4264?view=long&pmid=18502914
5. Mandalari G, Faulk RM, Rich GT, Lo Turco V, Picout DR, Lo Curto RB, Bisignano G, Dugo P, Dugo G, Waldron KW, Ellis PR, Wickham MS. “Release of Protein, Lipid, and Vitamin E from Almond Seeds During Digestion.” J Agric Food Chem 2008 May 14;56(9):3409-16. Epub 2008 Apr 17. http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/abstrac.cgi/jafcau/2008/56/i09/abs/jf073393v.html
6. Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20th December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. Official Journal of the European Union 18.1.2007, L 12/3.
7. Nutrient data obtained from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21 (2008).