Almonds may improve exercise performance, study finds

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Scientists from Appalachian State University and elsewhere found that eating almonds may improve exercise performance in untrained people.

One ounce of almonds provides about 165 calories, 6 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat (80% monounsaturated, 15% polyunsaturated, and 5% saturated), 6 grams of carbohydrate, and 3 grams of fiber.

Almonds contain lots of healthy fats, fiber, protein, magnesium, and vitamin E.

Previous research has found that almonds may help lower blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels. They can also reduce hunger and promote weight loss.

In the current study, researchers aimed to examine if 4 weeks of almond intake may help reduce post-exercise inflammation and muscle soreness and damage.

They tested 64 adults not engaging in regular resistance training (ages 30–65 years). All of the participants had healthy body weights.

These people did a 90-min of eccentric exercise to induce muscle damage.

The participants were assigned to almond (57 g/d) or cereal bar (calorie-matched) treatment groups for a 4-week period prior to the exercises.

Blood and 24-h urine samples were collected before and after supplementation, with additional blood samples collected immediately post-exercise, and then daily during 4 additional days of recovery.

The team found the exercise led to strong muscle damage, delayed onset of muscle soreness inflammation, reduced strength and power performance, and mood disturbance.

Eating almonds was linked to reduced post-exercise fatigue and tension and higher levels of leg-back strength.

Almond intake was linked to lower levels of serum creatine kinase immediately- and 1-day post-exercise.

The team also found almond intake supported positive metabolic outcomes for adults engaging in unaccustomed eccentric exercise bouts.

Based on the findings, the team concludes that almond intake played a role in boosting mood, retaining strength, decreasing muscle damage, increasing the generation of gut-derived phenolic metabolites, and altering the plasma oxylipin response to unaccustomed eccentric exercise in untrained adults.

The research was published in Frontiers in Nutrition and conducted by David C. Nieman et al.

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