Human beings inhale free oxygen radicals during respiration. These free radicals attack the cells of the body and vascular walls, and can damage them. The body has a number of integral mechanisms whereby it can combat this occurrence. Furthermore, radical scavengers, or so-called antioxidants, present in various foodstuffs, e.g. nuts, may be ingested in the course of nutrition. Almonds are a rich source of antioxidants, especially of Vitamin E.
A balance between free radicals and protective antioxidants should subsist in the body. Various influences may, however, disrupt this balance. Cigarette consumption is just one example of a source of free radicals. The body is exposed to oxidative stress. As a result, DNA damage may occur.
A study has examined the extent to which the oxidative status in smokers may be improved by means of almond consumption.
The study incorporated 30 male participants, aged between 18 and 25 years, each having smoked 10-20 cigarettes a day for a period of at least five years. The participants were assigned to three equally sized groups. One group received no almonds; the remaining two groups received 64 g and 168 g of almonds per day, respectively, for a period of four weeks. Additionally, daily nutrition and physical activity were identical for all participants for the duration of the study. In order to assess the effect of almond consumption, both blood and urine samples were examined.
The researchers ascertained that higher almond consumption resulted in less DNA damage in the smoker subjects. Hence, almonds exert a protective effect on oxidative stress and on DNA damage caused by smoking.
Further studies are required in this area in order to close those gaps in knowledge that have not yet been fully addressed.
Jia X, Li N, Zhang W, Zhang X, Lapsley K, Huang G, Blumberg J, Ma G, Chen J (2006): A pilot study on the effects of almond consumption on DNA damage and oxidative stress in smokers. Nutr Cancer. 54, S. 179-183.