A study found that eating a small amount of almonds every day significantly increases synthesis of the short-chain fatty acid butyrate, which is beneficial to gut health.
According to one study, eating a handful of almonds every day improves butyrate synthesis, a short-chain fatty acid that benefits gut health. A team of researchers from King’s College London investigated the effect of whole and ground almonds on the composition of gut microbes. The California Almond Board funded the study, which was published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The gut microbiome is made up of thousands of microorganisms that live in the gut. These are essential for nutrient digestion and can have a positive or negative impact on our health, including our digestive and immune systems. The mechanisms of how gut microbiomes affect human health are still being studied, but evidence suggests that eating certain foods can positively influence the types of bacteria in our gut or what they do in our gut.
Researchers from King’s College London recruited 87 healthy adults who were already eating less than the recommended amount of dietary fibre and snacking on typical unhealthy snacks (e.g. chocolate, crisps). Participants were divided into three groups: one group changed their snacks to 56 g of whole almonds per day, another to 56 g of ground almonds per day, and the control group ate energy-matched muffins as a control. The trial lasted four weeks.
Butyrate levels were significantly higher in almond eaters than in muffin eaters, according to the researchers. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that serves as the primary fuel source for the cells that line the colon. When these cells function properly, it creates an ideal environment for gut microbes to thrive, the gut wall to be strong and not leaky or inflamed, and nutrients to be absorbed.
There was no significant difference in gut transit time (the time it takes for food to move all the way through the gut), but whole-almond eaters had 1.5 more bowel movements per week than the other groups. These findings imply that eating almonds may also help those who suffer from constipation.
Consuming whole and ground almond improved people’s diets, with higher intakes of monosaturated fatty acids, fibre, potassium, and other important nutrients compared to the control group.
Professor Kevin Whelan, Head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London and lead author, stated: “The production of short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, by the gut microbiota has an impact on human health. These molecules serve as a fuel source for colon cells, regulate nutrient absorption in the gut, and aid in immune system balance. These findings suggest that almond consumption may benefit bacterial metabolism in ways that may have an impact on human health.”