Study: Eating Almonds Daily Boosts Recovery From Strenuous Exercise

Analysis shows 4-week daily dietary supplementation with the nuts increases the level of beneficial 12,13-DiHOME after physical activity.

Individuals who ate 57 g of almonds a day for 1 month had more of the beneficial fat, 12,13-dihydroxy-9Z-octadecenoic acid (12,13-DiHOME), in their blood immediately after a session of intense exercise compared with the control individuals, according to the results of a study published in Frontiers in Nutrition.

12,13-DiHOME is an oxidized fat (oxylipin) that is synthetized from linoleic acid by brown fat tissue, which has a beneficial effect on metabolic health and energy regulation.

“Here we show that volunteers who consumed 57 g of almonds daily for 1 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,” David Nieman, DrPH, FACSM, a professor and director of the Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory at the North Carolina Research Campus, said in a statement.

Investigators included 38 men and 26 women between aged 30 and 65 years old who did not participate in regular weight training. About half were randomized to the almond diet group, and the others were used as the control group, who ate a calorie-matched cereal bar daily.

Investigators took blood and urine samples before and after the 4-week period of dietary supplementation. The performance measures included a bench press, leg-back strength exercises, 50-meter shuttle run test, 30-second Wingate anaerobic test, and vertical jump.

Investigators took additional blood and urine samples immediately after the 90-minute session of exercising, as well as daily for 5 days after.

After investigators drew blood, individuals would fill out the Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire to measure their mental state, and rate their delayed onset muscle soreness, including pain and stiffness after exercise, on a 10-interval scale.

Investigators reported that the 90-minute exercise led to an increase in the individuals’ self-reported feeling of muscle damage and soreness and an increase in the POMS score, indicating self-reported decrease in vigor and increase in anxiety, depression, and fatigue.

Furthermore, the concentration of 12,13-DiHOME was 69% higher in the blood plasma of individuals in the almond group than those in the control group. 12,13-DiHOME is also known to increase the transport of fatty acid and uptake by skeletal muscle, which helps stimulate metabolic recovery after exercising. Another pattern was found for a mildly toxic oxylipin, 10-Dihydroxy-12-octadecenoic acid, which was 40% higher immediately after exercise in the blood of the control group than in the almond group.

9,10-diHOME has been shown to have negative effects on overall health and the body’s recovery to exercise.

“We conclude that 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 said.

Investigators concluded that the daily consumption of almonds leads to a change in metabolism, which can downregulate inflammation and oxidative stress from exercise and enable the body to recover faster.

Reference

Eating almonds daily boosts exercise recovery molecule by 69% among ‘weekend warriors.’ EurekAlert. News release. January 9, 2023. Accessed January 10, 2023. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/975860

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