Eating almonds could help improve digestive health by increasing levels of beneficial gut bacteria.
As well as being high in vitamin E and other minerals, almonds are now believed to increase good bacteria in the gut.
The study published by the US Institute of Food Research found the prebiotic potential of almonds when looking at the nut in a gastro-intestinal tract simulator called the ‘model gut’.
Large amounts of good bacteria already live in the colon and form part of the body’s defence against harmful bacteria. However, antibiotics, stress and a poor diet can lead to an imbalance and an overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast.
Unlike probiotics, found in yoghurt, which add healthy bacteria to the intestinal tract, prebiotics are non-digestible and remain in the digestive tract fuelling growth and activity in ‘good’ bacteria.
The study found that finely ground almonds significantly increased the levels of certain beneficial gut bacteria.
However this effect was not seen when the fat content was removed from the almond preparation, suggesting that the beneficial bacteria use the almond lipid (or oil) for growth.
The study also found that the length of time the almond spends in the digestive system affected the amount of lipids and proteins. The study concluded that more detailed research on almonds, digestion and the prebiotic effect of almond lipids were needed.
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