Almonds — the superfood for good cholesterol

You can file the results of this latest study under “DUH.” But since it’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, I’m going to share the good word with you anyway.

A new study recently appeared in the Journal of Nutrition. It featured nearly 50 men and women with high LDL cholesterol and two controlled diet periods, each lasting six weeks. Diets during each period were identical, save for one snack.

During one period, the group ate 43 grams of almonds daily. (That’s about 1.5 ounces, or a small handful.) During the control period, they ate a banana muffin instead.

Researchers assessed the subjects “good” HDL cholesterol at the end of each period, then compared it to initial measurements taken before the study started. And surprise, surprise…

A daily almond snack increased HDL levels by nearly 20 percent. But more importantly, it also improved the function of HDL cholesterol by more than 6 percent — increasing the efficiency of its lifesaving duty of transporting cholesterol from tissues to the liver for removal.  

Now, before you beat me to it, let me say that if you’re questioning the sense in using a banana muffin as a “control” food, then good — you’ve obviously been paying attention. I can think of a lot of foods that would be better for your cholesterol than what is essentially a glorified cupcake.

Admittedly, this study couldn’t have set the bar much lower. But then, its results aren’t really meant to convince people like me, are they?

I was recommending almonds as a healthy snack way back when they were still considered high-fat no-no’s. But the fact that there are still people out there that would consider a banana muffin a “healthy” snack — or even a neutral one — should tell you who we’re dealing with here.  

That’s why I suspect it will still be a long time before the mainstream completely reverses course on their nonsensical low-fat mantra and finally comes down on sugar (like that in muffins…or bananas, for that matter — which should really be categorized as “forbidden fruits”) with appropriate force.

Until then, at least we have studies like this to serve up the truth, as obvious as it might be. Nothing good ever comes from eating a muffin. But fat can be your friend — especially the kind that comes from almonds.