If you’re worried about cholesterol, stop stressing about eggs and start eating more almonds. A recent study from Pennsylvania State University confirmed that eating just a few almonds per day can increase the good cholesterol, called HDL, in your body. The almonds also influence the body to transport more bad cholesterol, called LDL, to your liver, where it’s filtered out and removed from the bloodstream.
HDL is considered “good” cholesterol because it collects the bad stuff while circulating through your body and deposits it into your liver.
“HDL is very small when it gets released into circulation,” explained Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, author of the study. “It’s like a garbage bag that slowly gets bigger and more spherical as it gathers cholesterol from cells and tissues before depositing them in the liver to be broken down.” So although it sounds counterintuitive, the more “good” cholesterol you have, the less cholesterol you’ll have overall. And the more almonds you snack on, the more HDL you’ll have to help your body out.
The cholesterol-aiding benefits of the crunchy snack worked to lower cholesterol for the study’s participants in as little as six weeks. One group was given a handful of almonds as a snack each day while the other group was given a banana muffin. Health drawbacks of the muffin aside, the group snacking on high-fat almonds experienced a 19 percent increase in good cholesterol over the six week period of the study.
This isn’t the only benefit that almonds have to offer. These powerhouse snacks contain lots of monounsaturated fats (one of the best, healthiest kinds), fiber, magnesium, and even protein, making them a favorite of vegetarians and health enthusiasts in general.
If you don’t like to munch on almonds raw, don’t worry — there are lots of recipes that incorporate almonds to enhance the flavor of your favorite dish.