STROKES happen to more than 100,000 people every year in the UK, and up to 30 per cent of sufferers die within a month. However, adding almonds to your diet could prevent one, as well as reducing your risk of heart attack and coronary heart disease, by lowering your cholesterol.
According to the British Heart Foundation, cholesterol – a fatty substance – is essential for your body to work.
However, if your levels get too high it can lead to fatty deposits building up in your arteries which can raise your risk of heart attack, stroke and coronary heart disease.
But research has found adding a single food into your diet can single-handedly lower your cholesterol.
Findings published in the Journal of Nutritional Science reveals that eating almonds leads to significant reductions in total cholesterol, “bad” LDL cholesterol – which contributes to fatty build-ups in the arteries – and triglycerides, which is linked to fatty build-ups in artery walls.
The research also discovered almonds have no major impact on “good” HDL cholesterol levels, which are thought to protect against heart attack and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
Lucy Jones, a dietician, said: “Almonds are amazing for heart health for this reason.
“A handful a day – or 30g – reduces cholesterol by five to ten per cent, even if you don’t change your diet in any other ways.
“Even better, the effects are linear, so if you eat more than a handful of almonds a day you’ll get more benefits.”
Indeed, throughout the studies involving 837 participants almond consumption ranged from 20 to 113g per day.
It is thought the cholesterol-lowering benefits are due to high levels of mono- and polyunsaturated fat, low levels of saturated fat, and rich amounts of plant protein and dietary fibre.
The research adds to previous evidence supporting the consumption of almonds as a way to maintain healthy lipid levels and reduce risk of heart disease.
Dr Kathy Musa-Veloso, lead author of the systematic review and meta-analysis, said: “These results strengthen decades of research about how the regular consumption of almonds can favourably impact blood lipid levels and have a positive effect on heart health.
“The consumption of almonds as part of a healthy diet should be encouraged in order to improve blood lipid levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.”
Almonds are a component of the Mediterranean diet.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people following a Mediterranean diet had a 30 per cent lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
The way of eating is popular in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, France, Greece and Spain.
It involves consuming plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, cereal grains, olive oil and fish, according to NHS.