You may have heard about the Mediterranean diet study, called
PREDIMED, that has been widely publicized in the media in recent
months. PREDIMED is a major clinical trial that measured the effect of diet on the risk of adverse heart outcomes. It was published in late February in the New England Journal
Almonds were included as part of the tree-nut mix in a study
of the Mediterranean diet.
The study, conducted in Spain among men and women (ages 55–80) at high risk for cardiovascular disease, found that the incidence of major cardiovascular events (such as heart attack and stroke) was reduced in those following a Mediterranean diet pattern supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts. The Mediterranean diet pattern is typically rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables.
The study participants followed either a Mediterranean diet or a
low-fat diet for nearly five years. Those on the Mediterranean diet ate extra-virgin olive oil or mixed nuts, roughly 1 ounce per day of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts (half an ounce of walnuts, 1/4 ounce of almonds and 1/4 ounce of hazelnuts). Whether the results can be generalized to persons at lower risk or to other settings requires further research.
In reference to the tree nut group, while it’s clear that the study results can’t be credited to just one nut, it’s worth noting that almonds were a part of the tree-nut mix, and have long been recognized as part of a heart-healthy diet. You can read more about the study on the New England Journal of Medicine website.
Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat.