Pilot Study: The Synergistic Effect of Almond Consumption and Aerobic Activity on the Reduction of Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Sedentary Adults
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the world, responsible for 17.3 million deaths annually. Aerobic activity and almond ingestion have a cardio-protective effect against cardiovascular disease, however, the synergistic effect of both interventions is not known. This 8-week randomized, parallel, two-arm study examined the combined effect of daily almond ingestion (2.5 ounces) and brisk walking (10,000 steps per day) compared to ingestion of an isocaloric placebo (4 Tbsp cookie butter) and brisk walking (10,000 steps per day) in sedentary adults on various markers of cardiovascular health. The additive effect of the daily walking intervention with almond consumption resulted in significant differences in total cholesterol with a -11.0 ± 10.5 and +3.3 ± 15.8 mg/dL (p=0.043) change in the ALM and CON group respectively and LDL with a -11.5 ± 7.5 and +0.5 ± 13.7 mg/dL (p=0.025) change in the ALM and CON group respectively. There was a trend for TBARS to decrease in the ALM group versus the CON group (-0.2 ± 0.8 and +0.3 ± 0.6 nmol MDA/mL (p=0.099) respectively) with a large effect size of 0.304 but this did not reach statistical significance. There were no significant differences seen in markers of other plasma lipid profile measures, plasma inflammatory cytokines, or blood pressure regulation. Results suggest that the simple, cost-effective, and accessible intervention of daily brisk walking and almond consumption is an effective strategy to reduce cardiovascular disease risk in sedentary adults through improvements in cholesterol. This represents a pilot study due to the small sample size, therefore, additional studies are needed to determine the impact and mechanisms of this synergistic effect.