If you’re a “weekend warrior” who wants to feel and recover better after working up a serious sweat during a big exercise session, eating more almonds could be key, according to new research.
A randomized and controlled study found that participants who exercise regularly and ate almonds daily for a month saw significant benefits from incorporating the legumes into their diets.
Specifically, volunteers who ate 57 grams of almonds each day had higher levels of a key molecule in their blood after a weekly 90-minute workout.
“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,” explains study co-author Dr. David C. Nieman, who also directs the Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory. “They also reported feeling less fatigue and tension, better leg-back strength, and decreased muscle damage after exercise than control volunteers.”
12,13-DiHOME is shorthand for the beneficial, oxidized fat 12,13-dihydroxy-9Z-octadecenoic acid, which has benefits for metabolism and energy regulation.
Amounts of the molecule were 69 percent higher in those that ate almonds regularly. The substance is known to help repair routine muscle tissue damage from exercise
The trial was relatively small, however, involving a total of just 38 men and 26 women, all between the ages of 30 and 65. Additionally, all of the study participants did not engage in regular weight training, so there’s a number of potential caveats and limitations to these findings.
The study is published Monday in Frontiers in Nutrition.
The research team says that making a habit of munching almonds can not only boost metabolism, but also reduce inflammation and help athletes recover more quickly.
“We conclude that almonds provide a unique and complex nutrient and polyphenol mixture that may support metabolic recovery from stressful levels of exercise,” explained Nieman. “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.”
No word on how much benefit can be gleaned from just gulping down some almond milk rather than whole nuts just yet.