Mental stress can endanger heart health. An almond snack introduced into the diet can protect it from risks: the study
Dried fruit, properties and calories
Eating an almond-based snack a day can help protect against cardiovascular risks. This is highlighted by a clinical study carried out by King's College in London.
Mental stress is among the psychosocial factors believed to contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Heart rate variability (HRV), a measure of fluctuation in the time intervals between consecutive heart beats, is an important indicator of the cardiovascular system's response to stress and lifestyle factors, including physical activity, are thought to be and diet, may affect HRV.
A higher HRV represents greater adaptability of the heart in response to environmental and psychological challenges, while a lower HRV is linked to cardiovascular disease and sudden cardiac death. As part of a recent clinical study, researchers from King's College London measured HRV in participants undergoing a mental stress challenge and saw better HRV data in participants who had substituted typical almond snacks for a six week period. The study was funded by the Almond Board of California.
The results of the study
This new research finding is part of the ATTIS study, a 6-week randomized control, parallel-arm study, in which participants with above-average cardiovascular risk consumed a daily almond snack or a control snack of equal, equivalent calories. 20% of the estimated daily energy needs of each participant.
The researchers measured the participants' real-time heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) at rest (lying down for 5-minute periods) and during a Stroop test (in which participants were asked to read words. colored, eg say “red” in a green font) to simulate a short period of mental stress.
In phases of acute mental stress, participants in the almond group showed better heart rate regulation than the control group, indicated by statistically significant differences in high-frequency power, which specifically rates beat-to-beat intervals ( a measure of HRV).
Almonds in the diet
Research suggests that eating almonds instead of a typical snack can decrease the HRV drop that occurs during mental stress, thereby improving heart function. This diet strategy has the potential to increase cardiovascular resistance to mental stress, along with other heart health benefits from consuming almonds such as lowering LDL cholesterol and improving blood vessel function.
"This study shows that the simple dietary strategy of consuming almonds instead of a classic snack can strengthen resilience to the adverse cardiovascular effects of mental stress by improving heart rate regulation," said Dr. Wendy Hall, researcher, at head of the firm (along with Dr. Sarah Berry) and lecturer in Nutritional Sciences at King's College London.
"These findings are particularly interesting right now, given the high levels of stress many of us are experiencing, coupled with the growing number of snacks from work from home," said Dr Sarah Berry, researcher at King's College London. .
A paper recently published by ATTIS also examined the role of almond consumption on LDL cholesterol levels and endothelium-dependent vasodilation (as measured by flow-mediated dilation or FMD), which is a predictor of cardiovascular disease risk.
Years of heart health research – including a systematic review and meta-analysis – underscore the benefits of introducing almonds to heart-healthy diets. Although more studies are needed to confirm these findings, improvements in HRV and FMD suggest that almonds have positive effects on good heart function. Almonds provide fiber (12.5 / 4g per 100g / 30g serving) and 15 essential nutrients including (per 100g / 30g serving): magnesium (270/81mg), potassium (733/220 mg) and vitamin E (25.6 / 7.7 mg).