Creedon, A. C., E. Dimidi, E.S. Hung, M. Rossi, C. Probert, T. Grassby, J. Miguens-Blanco, J.R. Marchesi, S.M. Scott, S.E. Berry, K. Whelan, 2022. The impact of almonds and almond processing on gastrointestinal physiology, luminal microbiology, and gastrointestinal symptoms: a randomized controlled trial and mastication study. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 116(6):1790–1804. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqac265
Background: Almonds contain lipid, fiber, and polyphenols and possess physicochemical properties that affect nutrient bioaccessibility, which are hypothesized to affect gut physiology and microbiota. Objectives: To investigate the impact of whole almonds and ground almonds (almond flour) on fecal bifidobacteria (primary outcome), gut microbiota composition, and gut transit time. Methods: Healthy adults (n = 87) participated in a parallel, 3-arm randomized controlled trial. Participants received whole almonds (56 g/d), ground almonds (56 g/d), or an isocaloric control in place of habitual snacks for 4 wk. Gut microbiota composition and diversity (16S rRNA gene sequencing), SCFAs (GC), volatile organic compounds (GC-MS), gut transit time (wireless motility capsule), stool output and gut symptoms (7-d diary) were measured at baseline and endpoint. The impact of almond form on particle size distribution (PSD) and predicted lipid release was measured (n = 31). Results: Modified intention-to-treat analysis was performed on 79 participants. There were no significant differences in mean ± SD abundance of fecal bifidobacteria after consumption of whole almonds (8.7% ± 7.7%), ground almonds (7.8% ± 6.9%), or control (13.0% ± 10.2%; q = 0.613). Consumption of almonds (whole and ground pooled) resulted in higher mean ± SD butyrate (24.1 ± 15.0 μmol/g) than control (18.2 ± 9.1 μmol/g; P = 0.046). There was no effect of almonds on gut microbiota at the phylum level or diversity, gut transit time, stool consistency, or gut symptoms. Almond form (whole compared with ground) had no effect on study outcomes. Ground almonds resulted in significantly smaller PSD and higher mean ± SD predicted lipid release (10.4% ± 1.8%) than whole almonds (9.3% ± 2.0%; P = 0.017). Conclusions: Almond consumption has limited impact on microbiota composition but increases butyrate in adults, suggesting positive alterations to microbiota functionality. Almonds can be incorporated into the diet to increase fiber consumption without gut symptoms.This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03581812.