Almonds can improve digestive health: study

June 28th, 2008 - 4:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 28 (IANS) Almonds, rich in vitamin E and other minerals, are known to reduce cholesterol. But a new study says they are also good for digestive health. The nut, the study found, has prebiotic properties and helps improve digestive health by boosting the numbers of beneficial gut bacteria.

The digestive system houses bacteria in the colon. They can fuel their growth and activity by feeding off prebiotics or non-digestible parts of foods.

These “good” bacteria also form part of the body’s defence against harmful bacteria and have a significant role in the development of body’s immune system.

This, however, requires that prebiotics are able to get through the upper part of the intestine without being digested or absorbed by the body.

Institute of Food Research (IFR) scientists first used the Model Gut, a physical and biochemical simulator of the gastro-intestinal tract, to subject almonds to the same conditions experienced in the stomach and small intestine.

They then added the digested almonds to an in-vitro batch system to mimic the bacterial fermentation in the large intestine and monitored its effect on the populations of intestinal bacteria.

The study found that finely ground almonds significantly increased the levels of certain beneficial gut bacteria.

This effect was not seen when the fat content was removed from the almond preparation, suggesting that the beneficial bacteria use the almond lipid for growth, and this is the basis for the prebiotic effect of almonds.

The findings of the study have been published in the latest issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

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