The experts discovered that participants who ate 57 grams of almonds daily for one month had higher levels of the beneficial fat 12,13-dihydroxy-9Z-octadecenoic acid (12,13-DiHOME). This substance is known to increase the transport of fatty acid and its uptake by skeletal muscles, with the overall effect of stimulating metabolic recovery after strenuous physical activities – in their blood immediately after a session of intense exercise.
“Here we show that volunteers who consumed 57g of almonds daily for one month before a single ‘weekend warrior’ exercise bout had more beneficial 12,13-DiHOME in their blood immediately after exercising than control volunteers. They also reported feeling less fatigue and tension, better leg-back strength, and decreased muscle damage after exercise than control volunteers,” explained study lead author David Nieman, an expert in Exercise and Nutrition at the Appalachian State University.
The trial involved 38 men and 26 women aged 30-65, who did not engage in regular weight training. The scientists split them into two groups – one in which participants consumed a daily dose of almonds, and a control group in which they ate a calorie-matched cereal bar – and took blood and urine samples before and after a four-week period of dietary supplementation.
After a 30 second Wingate anaerobic test, a 50 meters shuttle test run, a vertical jump, and bench press and leg-back stretching exercise, additional blood and urine samples were taken, both immediately following these 90 minute sessions of intense exercise and daily for four days afterwards.
Immediately after exercise, the concentration of the beneficial 12,13-DiHOME was 69 percent higher in the blood plasma of participants in the almond group than in those in the control group (where in fact a reverse pattern was found, with the mildly toxic 9,10-Dihydroxy-12-octadecenoic acid (9,10-diHOME) being 40 percent higher).
According to the scientists, daily consumption of almonds leads to metabolic changes, downregulating inflammation and oxidative stress from exercise and enabling the body to recover faster.
“Almonds provide a unique and complex nutrient and polyphenol mixture that may support metabolic recovery from stressful levels of exercise. Almonds have high amounts of protein, healthy types of fats, vitamin E, minerals, and fiber. And the brown skin of almonds contains polyphenols that end up in the large intestine and help control inflammation and oxidative stress,” Nieman concluded.
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