New National Academy of Sciences report highlights health importance of nutrients found in almonds

September 05, 2002

WASHINGTON -- The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the nation's most prestigious scientific society, released a report today with new recommendations for healthy eating to reduce the risk of chronic disease, including coronary heart disease and diabetes.

Developed by a panel of 21 experts who analyzed existing scientific literature regarding human requirements for certain nutrients, the report included discussion of healthful fats, protein and fiber -- providing more great reasons to eat a handful a day of almonds.

Already America's favorite tree nut, almonds shine on all three counts -- providing healthful fat, protein and fiber -- as a healthful choice in a healthful diet. With a unique combination of nutrients, they offer a synergistic effect to help meet the NAS requirements for healthy eating.

Healthful Fats
For the first time, the NAS analyzed how different types of fats impact health, including a discussion of the important role monounsaturated fat plays in reducing the risk of chronic disease.

Almonds are the leading source of monounsaturated fat among America's most consumed nuts (almonds, peanuts and walnuts)1. Of the 14 grams of total fat found in one ounce of almonds, 68 percent is monounsaturated.

This monounsaturated fat plays a role in helping almonds lower harmful cholesterol just as effectively as expensive drugs, according to a University of Toronto study, recently released by the American Heart Association. Researchers there asked people to eat a small handful of almonds each day for a month, and those who did saw their low-density lipoprotein (the so-called "bad" cholesterol) fall 4.4 percent.

For those concerned about fat and weight gain, research indicates that almonds and other nuts can play a role in weight maintenance. In one study, people who ate foods higher in monounsaturated fats, like almonds, were able to keep their weight off for a longer period of time than those following a low-fat diet, as long as they substituted monounsaturated fats for foods with higher saturated fat2.

More good news about almonds' fat is that in addition to being cholesterol-free, they contain none of the unhealthful trans fats the NAS report warns against.

The bottom line: A one-ounce serving of almonds is high in monounsaturated fat -- it's a healthful boost toward lowering LDL cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of chronic heart disease.

The report examined the role of plant proteins in the diet, concluding that those who consume a varied vegetarian diet can get the same quality of protein as yielded by animal protein diets.

A one-ounce handful of almonds is a good source of protein, delivering six grams -- about the same as an egg or one ounce of meat. As Americans seek healthful protein sources, almonds and other plant-based sources emerge as a good alternative to those proteins high in saturated fat.

The bottom line: A one-ounce serving of almonds provides 10 percent of the recommended daily value for protein -- an essential nutrient for building muscle and maintaining energy.

Dietary Fiber
The report provided a new definition for dietary fiber. Almonds help provide daily fiber, with a one-ounce serving containing a good contribution, 3 grams, of the important dietary fiber recommended by NAS.

The bottom line: A one-ounce serving of almonds contains fiber as well as monounsaturated fat -- important for a healthy digestive tract, as well as for reducing blood cholesterol and controlling diabetes.

"From this report, almonds emerge as a great overall snack," said David J.A. Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., a member of the NAS Panel on Dietary Reference Intakes for Macronutrients, which developed the report. "They're high in healthful monounsaturated fat, vegetable protein and fiber, and they provide several other nutrients as well. For something so small, they're really packed with good nutrition."

A one-ounce handful of almonds contains 35 percent of the NAS's current Daily Value (DV) of the antioxidant vitamin E, is an excellent source of magnesium, and also offers calcium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc.

For more information about almonds, including recipes and healthful eating tips, visit
The Almond Board of California administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. Established in 1950, the Board's charge is to promote the best quality almonds, California's largest tree nut crop. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit

Attention Editors: To schedule an interview with David J.A. Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., please contact Mei Mei Newsome at 202/973-2940 or Stacey Kollmeyer at 209/343-3225.

Photography available

1USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

2McManus, K, Antinoro, L, Sacks F. A randomized controlled trial of a moderate-fat, low-energy diet compared with a low fat, low-energy diet for weight loss in overweight adults. International Journal of Obesity 25:1503-1511, 2001.

Porter Novelli

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