12 January - 20 June 2016

Research looks into whether almonds can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease

21 May 2015

The consumption of almonds despite their high lipid content is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.  One explanation for this could be the limited bio accessibility of lipids due to the cell wall matrix acting as a physical barrier to digestion.  

Research carried out by food scientists at King’s College London and published in Food Chemistry aimed to measure the rate and extent of lipolysis in an in vitro duodenum digestion model, using roasted and raw almond materials with potentially different degrees of bio accessibility.   Almonds were prepared using a variety of methods (e.g. raw, roasted, ground and chewed) resulting in a range of samples with potentially different bio accessibilities.  Digestion of the almond materials was performed using the in vitro duodenal digestion model with samples being taken at different time points.  The lipids present in the digested samples of almond particles and cells were extracted and analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.  The structural changes of the separated lipid-rich cells, pre- and post- digestion were studied using microscopy techniques.     

This in vitro study showed that the availability of lipids for lipolysis, and the amount of fatty acids produced from the hydrolysis of TAG varied significantly depending the physical state of the almond materials.   Ellis et al were able to report that larger almond particles released less free fatty acid than was observed for the smaller particles; an effect of a higher number of ruptured cells in the finely milled material.  In fact, almond cells alone, which are small but have in-tact cell walls, release fewer lipids than the ground or chewed almond plant material.  The implications of this research have potential applications in body weight management, but also the design of novel food ingredients.

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