Particle size distribution and predicted lipid bioaccessibility of almonds and the effect of almond processing: a randomised mastication study in healthy adults.

Creedon, A.C., E.S. Hung, E. Dimidi, T. Grassby, S.E. Berry, K. Whelan, 2023. Particle size distribution and predicted lipid bioaccessibility of almonds and the effect of almond processing: a randomised mastication study in healthy adults. Nutrients. 15(3):489.

Almonds are rich in unsaturated lipids, which play a role in some of the reported benefits of almond consumption for human health. Almond lipids are poorly bioaccessible due to almonds’ unique physicochemical properties that influence particle size distribution (PSD) following mastication, allowing much intracellular lipid to escape digestion in the upper gastrointestinal tract. To investigate the impact of commercial processing (grinding almonds into flour), on PSD and predicted lipid bioaccessibility following mastication, a randomised cross-over design mastication study was conducted in healthy adults. The PSDs of masticated whole and ground almonds was assessed using two laboratory methods (mechanical sieving and laser diffraction). PSD from mechanical sieving was used to calculate lipid bioaccessibility using a theoretical mathematical model. Thirty-one healthy adults (18-45 years) completed both mastication sessions. Following mastication, ground almonds had a PSD with significantly fewer larger particles and more smaller particles, compared with whole almonds. Predicted lipid bioaccessibility of masticated ground almonds (10.4%, SD 1.8) was marginally but significantly greater than the predicted lipid bioaccessibility of masticated whole almonds (9.3%, SD 2.0; p = 0.017). Commercial grinding of almonds significantly influences the PSD of almonds following mastication, which results in a modest but significant increase in predicted lipid bioaccessibility.

Almond intake alters the acute plasma dihydroxy-octadecenoic acid (DiHOME) response to eccentric exercise. 

Nieman, D.C., A.M. Omar, C.D. Kay, D.M. Kasote, C.A. Sakaguchi, A. Lkhagva, M.M. Weldemariam, Q. Zhang, 2023. Almond intake alters the acute plasma dihydroxy-octadecenoic acid (DiHOME) response to eccentric exercise. Front. Nutr. 9:1042719.

Introduction: This investigation determined if 4-weeks ingestion of nutrient-dense almonds mitigated post-exercise inflammation and muscle soreness and damage. Methods: An acute 90-min of eccentric exercise (90-EE) was used to induce muscle damage in 64 non-obese adults not engaging in regular resistance training (ages 30-65 years, BMI < 30 kg/m2). Using a parallel group design, participants were randomized to almond (AL) (57 g/d) or cereal bar (CB) (calorie matched) treatment groups for a 4-week period prior to the 90-EE (17 exercises). Blood and 24-h urine samples were collected before and after supplementation, with additional blood samples collected immediately post-90-EE, and then daily during 4 additional days of recovery. Changes in plasma oxylipins, urinary gut-derived phenolics, plasma cytokines, muscle damage biomarkers, mood states, and exercise performance were assessed. Results: The 90-EE protocol induced significant muscle damage, delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS), inflammation, reduced strength and power performance, and mood disturbance. Interaction effects (2 group × 7 time points) supported that AL vs. CB was associated with reduced post-exercise fatigue and tension (p = 0.051, 0.033, respectively) and higher levels of leg-back strength (p = 0.029). No group differences were found for post-90-EE increases in DOMS and six cytokines. AL was associated with lower levels of serum creatine kinase immediately- and 1-day post-exercise (p = 0.034 and 0.013, respectively). The 90-EE bout increased plasma levels immediately post-exercise for 13 oxylipins. Interaction effects revealed significantly higher levels for AL vs. CB for 12,13-DiHOME (p < 0.001) and lower levels for 9,10-DiHOME (p < 0.001). Urine levels increased in AL vs. CB for seven gut-derived phenolics including 5-(3′,4′-dihydroxyphenyl)-γ-valerolactone that was inversely related to changes in plasma 9,10-DiHOME (r = -0.029, p = 0.021). Discussion: These data support some positive effects of almond intake in improving mood state, retaining strength, decreasing muscle damage, increasing the generation of gut-derived phenolic metabolites, and altering the plasma oxylipin DiHOME response to unaccustomed eccentric exercise in untrained adults. The elevated post-exercise plasma levels of 12,13-DiHOME with almond intake support positive metabolic outcomes for adults engaging in unaccustomed eccentric exercise bouts.

Keywords: (poly)phenols; almonds; cytokines; exercise; inflammation; metabolites; oxylipins.

Effect of walnut supplementation on dietary polyphenol intake and urinary polyphenol excretion in the walnuts and healthy aging study.

Amen, R. I., Sirirat, R., Oda, K., Rajaram, S., Nwachukwu, I., Cofan, M., Ros, E., Sabate, J., & Haddad, E. H. (2023). Effect of walnut supplementation on dietary polyphenol intake and urinary polyphenol excretion in the walnuts and healthy aging study. Nutrients. 15(5):1253.

Among all tree nuts, walnuts contain the highest total polyphenols by weight. This secondary data analysis examined the effect of daily walnut supplementation on the total dietary polyphenols and subclasses and the urinary excretion of total polyphenols in a free-living elderly population. In this 2-year prospective, randomized intervention trial (ID NCT01634841), the dietary polyphenol intake of participants who added walnuts daily to their diets at 15% of daily energy were compared to those in the control group that consumed a walnut-free diet. Dietary polyphenols and subclasses were estimated from 24 h dietary recalls. Phenolic estimates were derived from Phenol-Explorer database version 3.6. Participants in the walnut group compared to the control group had a higher intake of total polyphenols, flavonoids, flavanols, and phenolic acids in mg/d (IQR): 2480 (1955, 3145) vs. 1897 (1369, 2496); 56 (42,84) vs. 29 (15, 54); 174 (90, 298) vs. 140 (61, 277); and 368 (246, 569) vs. 242 (89, 398), respectively. There was a significant inverse association between dietary flavonoid intake and urine polyphenol excretion; less urinary excretion may imply that some of the polyphenols were eliminated via the gut. Nuts had a significant contribution to the total polyphenols in the diet, suggesting that a single food like walnuts added to habitual diet can increase the polyphenol intake in a Western population.

Adding walnuts to the usual diet can improve diet quality in the United States: diet modeling study based on NHANES 2015-2018. 

Spence, L.A., B. Henschel, R. Li, C.D. Tekwe, K. Thiagarajah, 2023. Adding walnuts to the usual diet can improve diet quality in the United States: diet modeling study based on NHANES 2015-2018. Nutrients. 15(2):258.

Background: The under-consumption of calcium, potassium, fiber, and vitamin D is considered a U.S. public health concern. Shifts in eating patterns that increase the consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts/seeds, and dairy products can help achieve the recommended intakes of these nutrients, leading to healthier diets. Objective: We assessed the impact of adding 1 ounce (28.35 g) of walnuts to usual diets on diet quality and nutrients of concern, including magnesium, fiber, and potassium. Methods: We utilized 24 h dietary recalls obtained from the What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and modeled the addition of 1 ounce (28.35 g) of walnuts to the usual diets of no-nut consumers. No-nut consumers aged _4 years (n = 7757) from the 2015–2018 NHANES study were included. Population percentages with intakes below the estimated average requirement (EAR) values for calcium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin E and above the adequate intake (AI) values for potassium and fiber were examined. Diet quality was assessed using the Healthy Eating Index-2015 (HEI-2015). The National Cancer Institute method was used to estimate the usual and modeled intakes. Significant differences between usual (current) and modeled intakes were determined using non-overlapping 95% confidence intervals. All analyses included sample weights to account for the NHANES survey design. Results: Adding 1 ounce (28.35 g) of walnuts to the usual diet resulted in significant reductions in the percentages of adults with intakes below the EAR for magnesium and folate (69.6% vs. 52.0%; 49.2% vs. 40.6%, respectively), and increased the percentage of adults above the AI for potassium (22.8% vs. 26.5%). A similar trend was observed among children (4–18 years). HEI scores improved significantly from 49.1 (95% CI: 48.0–50.4) to 58.5 (95% CI: 57.5–59.6) in children and from 52.4 (95% CI: 51.0–53.8) to 59.2 (95% CI: 58.0–60.5) in adults. Conclusions: Adding 1 ounce (28.35 g) of walnuts to the usual diet of no-nut consumers improved the diet quality and adequacy of some under-consumed nutrients.

The effect of high-polyphenol Mediterranean diet on visceral adiposity: the DIRECT PLUS randomized controlled trial.

Zelicha, H., N. Kloting, A. Kaplan, A. Yaskolka Meir, E. Rinott, G. Tsaban, Y. Chassidim,  M. Bluher, U. Ceglarek, B. Isermann, M. Stumvoll, R.N. Quayson, M. von Bergen, B. Engelmann, U.E. Rolle-Kampczyk, S.B. Haange, K.M. Tuohy, C. Diotallevi, I. Shelef, F.B. Hu, M.J. Stampfer, I. Shai, 2022. The effect of high-polyphenol Mediterranean diet on visceral adiposity: the DIRECT PLUS randomized controlled trial. BMC Medicine. 20(1):327.

Background: Mediterranean (MED) diet is a rich source of polyphenols, which benefit adiposity by several mechanisms. We explored the effect of the green-MED diet, twice fortified in dietary polyphenols and lower in red/processed meat, on visceral adipose tissue (VAT). Methods: In the 18-month Dietary Intervention Randomized Controlled Trial PoLyphenols UnproceSsed (DIRECT-PLUS) weight-loss trial, 294 participants were randomized to (A) healthy dietary guidelines (HDG), (B) MED, or (C) green-MED diets, all combined with physical activity. Both isocaloric MED groups consumed 28 g/day of walnuts (+ 440 mg/day polyphenols). The green-MED group further consumed green tea (3–4 cups/day) and Wolffia globosa (duckweed strain) plant green shake (100 g frozen cubes/day) (+ 800mg/day polyphenols) and reduced red meat intake. We used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to quantify the abdominal adipose tissues. Results: Participants (age = 51 years; 88% men; body mass index = 31.2 kg/m2; 29% VAT) had an 89.8% retention rate and 79.3% completed eligible MRIs. While both MED diets reached similar moderate weight (MED: − 2.7%, green-MED: − 3.9%) and waist circumference (MED: − 4.7%, green-MED: − 5.7%) loss, the green-MED dieters doubled the VAT loss (HDG: − 4.2%, MED: − 6.0%, green-MED: − 14.1%; p < 0.05, independent of age, sex, waist circumference, or weight loss). Higher dietary consumption of green tea, walnuts, and Wolffia globosa; lower red meat intake; higher total plasma polyphenols (mainly hippuric acid), and elevated urine urolithin A polyphenol were significantly related to greater VAT loss (p < 0.05, multivariate models). Conclusions: A green-MED diet, enriched with plant-based polyphenols and lower in red/processed meat, may be a potent intervention to promote visceral adiposity regression.

Diet-induced fasting ghrelin elevation reflects the recovery of insulin sensitivity and visceral adiposity regression.

Tsaban, G., A. Yaskolka Meir, H. Zelicha, E. Rinott, A. Kaplan, A. Shalev, A. Katz, D. Brikner, M. Blüher, U. Ceglarek, M. Stumvoll, M.J. Stampfer, I. Shai, 2022. Diet-induced fasting ghrelin elevation reflects the recovery of insulin sensitivity and visceral adiposity regression. JCEM. 107(2):336–345.

Aims: Lower fasting-ghrelin-levels (FGL) are associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome. We aimed to explore the dynamics of FGL during weight-loss and its metabolic and adiposity-related manifestations beyond weight-loss. Methods: A secondary analysis of a clinical trial where we randomized participants with abdominal-obesity/dyslipidemia to one of three diets: healthy-dietary-guidelines (HDG), Mediterranean diet (MED), or green-MED diet, all combined with physical activity (PA). Both MED diets were similarly hypocaloric and included 28g/day walnuts. The green-MED group further consumed green tea (3-4 cups/day) and a Wolffia-globosa (Mankai) plant green-shake. We measured FGL and quantified body fat depots by Magnetic-Resonance-Imaging at baseline and after 18-months. Results: Among 294 participants [body-mass-index=31.3kg/m 2;FGL=504±208pg/mL; retention rate=89.8%], lower FGL were associated with unfavorable cardiometabolic parameters as higher visceral-adipose-tissue (VAT), intra-hepatic fat, leptin, and blood pressure (p<0.05 for all; multivariate models). ΔFGL18-month differed between men (+7.3+26.6%) and women (-9.2+21.3%,p=0.001). After 18-months of moderate and similar weight loss among the MED-groups, FGL increased by 1.3%, 5.4%, and 10.5% in HDG, MED, and green-MED groups, respectively (p=0.03 for green-MED vs. HDG), sex-stratified analysis revealed similar changes in men only. Among men, FGL18-month elevation was associated with favorable changes in insulin resistance profile and VAT regression, after adjusting for relative weight-loss (HbA1c:r=-0.216; homeostatic-model-of insulin-resistance:r=-0.154; HDL-c:r=0.147;VAT:r=-0.221;p<0.05 for all). , Insulin resistance and VAT remained inversely related with FGL elevation, beyond which was explained by weight-loss (residual regression analyses;p<0.05). Conclusions: Diet-induced FGL elevation may reflect insulin sensitivity recovery and VAT regression beyond weight-loss, specifically among men. Green-MED diet is associated with greater FGL elevation.

The effects of almond consumption on inflammatory biomarkers in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.

Fatahi, S., E. Daneshzad. K. Lotfi, L. Azadbakht, 2021. The effects of almond consumption on inflammatory biomarkers in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Adv. Nutr. doi:10.1093/advances/nmab158.

Conflicting findings have been reported regarding the effects of almond consumption on inflammatory markers. This study aimed to summarize the current literature to determine whether almond can affect inflammatory markers. A systematic search was carried out in PubMed, Scopus, and ISI Web of Science up to March 2021. Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that compared almond with no almond consumption were included. The outcomes of interest were changes in circulating C-reactive protein (CRP), Interleukin-6 (IL-6), Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha (TNF-α), Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 (VCAM-1) concentrations. The random-effects model was used to find the mean differences. Totally, 18 trials with 847 participants were eligible for the current analysis. Participant age ranged from 26.3 to 69.6 y. Combining 16 studies, almond consumption significantly reduced serum levels of CRP (WMD: -0.25 mg/L; 95% CI: -0.43, -0.06; I2 = 0.0% P-heterogeneity = 0.633). However, the beneficial effect of almond intake only occurred at doses <60 g/d. Pooling 11 effect sizes, almond interventions significantly decreased circulating IL-6 concentrations (WMD: -0.11 pg/mL; 95% CI: -0.21, -0.01; I2 = 19.9% P-heterogeneity = 0.254). In subgroup analyses, effects on CRP and IL-6 were not significant in unhealthy participants or those with obesity. In addition, almond consumption had no significant effect on TNF-α (WMD: -0.05 pg/mL; 95% CI: -0.11, 0.01; I2 = 0.0% P-heterogeneity = 0.893; n = 6), ICAM-1 (WMD: 6.39 ng/mL; 95% CI: -9.44, 22.22; I2 = 66.6% P-heterogeneity = 0.006; n = 7) or VCAM-1 (WMD: -8.31 ng/mL; 95% CI: -35.32, 18.71; I2 = 58.8% P-heterogeneity = 0.033; n = 6). In conclusion, almond consumption beneficially affects CRP and IL-6 concentrations in adults. However, it has no beneficial effect on TNF-α, ICAM-1, or VCAM-1. More trials are needed to determine the effects of almond on inflammation.

Prospective randomized controlled trial on the effects of almonds on facial wrinkles and pigmentation. 

Rybak, I., A.E. Carrington, S. Dhaliwal, A. Hasan, H. Wu, W. Burney, J. Maloh, R.K. Sivamani, 2021. Prospective randomized controlled trial on the effects of almonds on facial wrinkles and pigmentation. Nutrients. 13(3):785.

Background: Almonds have long been studied as a rich source of fatty acids, phytochemical polyphenols and antioxidants such as vitamin E. A recent study compared almond supplementations to a calorie-matched intervention for 16 weeks, yielding statistically significant improvement in wrinkle severity in postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin types I and II that received almonds. This study furthers that assessment with a larger population and duration of 24 weeks to assess the influence of almond consumption on wrinkle severity, skin pigmentation and other skin biophysical profiles. Objective: To investigate the effects of almond consumption on photoaging such as wrinkles and pigment intensity as well as facial biophysical parameters such as sebum production, skin hydration and water loss. Design and interventions: A prospective, randomized controlled study assessed postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin types I or II who consumed 20% of their daily energy consumption in either almonds or a calorie-matched snack for 24 weeks. A facial photograph and image analysis system was used to obtain standardized high-resolution photographs and information on wrinkle width and severity at 0, 8, 16 and 24 weeks. Measurements of transepidermal water loss (TEWL), skin pigmentation, skin hydration and sebum production were also completed at each visit. Results: The average wrinkle severity was significantly decreased in the almond intervention group at week 16 and week 24 compared to baseline by 15% and 16%, respectively. Facial pigment intensity was decreased 20% in the almond group at week 16 and this was maintained by week 24. There were no significant differences in skin hydration or TEWL in the almond group compared to the control, although sebum excretion was increased in the control group. Conclusion: The daily consumption of almonds may improve several aspects of photoaging such as facial wrinkles and pigment intensity in postmenopausal women. In conclusion, the daily consumption of almonds may contribute to the improvement of facial wrinkles and reduction of skin pigmentation among postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin types I and II.

The metabolomic-gut-clinical axis of Mankai plant-derived dietary polyphenols.

Yaskolka, M.A., K. Tuohy K, M. von Bergen, R. Krajmalnik-Brown, U. Heinig, H. Zelicha, G. Tsaban, E. Rinott, A. Kaplan, A. Aharoni, L. Zeibich, D. Chang, B. Dirks, C. Diotallevi, P. Arapitsas, U. Vrhovsek, U. Ceglarek, S.-B. Haange, U. Rolle-Kampczyk, B. Engelmann, M. Lapidot, M. Colt, Q. Sun, I., 2021. The metabolomic-gut-clinical axis of Mankai plant-derived dietary polyphenols. Nutrients. 13(6):1866.

Background: Polyphenols are secondary metabolites produced by plants to defend themselves from environmental stressors. We explored the effect of Wolffia globosa ‘Mankai’, a novel cultivated strain of a polyphenol-rich aquatic plant, on the metabolomic-gut clinical axis in vitro, in-vivo and in a clinical trial. Methods: We used mass-spectrometry-based metabolomics methods from three laboratories to detect Mankai phenolic metabolites and examined predicted functional pathways in a Mankai artificial-gut bioreactor. Plasma and urine polyphenols were assessed among the 294 DIRECT-PLUS 18-month trial participants, comparing the effect of a polyphenol-rich green-Mediterranean diet (+1240 mg/polyphenols/day, provided by Mankai, green tea and walnuts) to a walnuts-enriched (+440 mg/polyphenols/day) Mediterranean diet and a healthy controlled diet. Results: Approximately 200 different phenolic compounds were specifically detected in the Mankai plant. The Mankai-supplemented bioreactor artificial gut displayed a significantly higher relative-abundance of 16S-rRNA bacterial gene sequences encoding for enzymes involved in phenolic compound degradation. In humans, several Mankai-related plasma and urine polyphenols were differentially elevated in the green Mediterranean group compared with the other groups (p < 0.05) after six and 18 months of intervention (e.g., urine hydroxy-phenyl-acetic-acid and urolithin-A; plasma Naringenin and 2,5-diOH-benzoic-acid). Specific polyphenols, such as urolithin-A and 4-ethylphenol, were directly involved with clinical weight-related changes. Conclusions: The Mankai new plant is rich in various unique potent polyphenols, potentially affecting the metabolomic-gut-clinical axis.

Brief research report: estimation of the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score of defatted walnuts.

Lackey, K.A., S.A. Fleming, 2021. Brief research report: estimation of the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score of defatted walnuts. Frontiers in Nutrition. 8, 702857.

Introduction: Walnuts are considered a good source of essential fatty acids, which is unique among tree nuts. Walnuts are also composed of about 10–15% protein, but the quality of this protein has not been evaluated. Pistachios and almonds have been evaluated for their protein content using a protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS), but it is unclear how the quality of protein in walnuts relates to that in other commonly consumed tree nuts. The objective of this study was to substantiate the protein quality of walnuts by determining their PDCAAS. Methods: A small, 10-day dietary intervention trial was conducted using male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 8, 4 per group) with two diets: a nitrogen-free diet and a diet containing protein exclusively from defatted walnuts. Feed intake and fecal output of nitrogen were measured to estimate the true protein digestibility, and the amino acid compositions of walnuts compared to child and adult populations were used to calculate amino acid scores (AAS) and PDCAAS. Results: The true protein digestibility score of raw walnuts was calculated to be 86.22%. Raw walnuts contained 15.6 g protein/g walnut with AAS of 0.45 and 0.63 for children aged 6 months to 3 years and 3–10 years, respectively. For each population, a PDCAAS of 39 and 46% was calculated, respectively, using a protein conversion constant of 5.30. Using a protein constant of 6.25, a PDCAAS of 39% (6 months – 3 years) or 46% (3-10 years) was calculated. Conclusions: This is the first known assessment of the PDCAAS of walnuts. Like almonds, appear to have a low-to-moderate score, indicating they are not a quality source of protein.