Almonds, the edible seeds of Prunus dulcis, are associated with a number of health benefits as they are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber.
California’s 6,800 growers shook 2.26 billion pounds of almonds off the trees in 2018, amounting to more than 80% of the world’s supply, according to the Almond Board of California.
Health from the inside out
The Almond Board, a grower-supported nonprofit, recently sponsored a pilot study to investigate how eating almonds impacted wrinkles. Dermatologists at the University of California-Davis enlisted 28 healthy, postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin types 1 or 2 (those with tendency to burn). The intervention group consumed 2 ounces of almonds a day, while the control group ate 2 ounces of nut-free snacks.
Skin assessments were made at the start of the study, and again at 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks. At each visit, facial wrinkles were evaluated using high-resolution facial imaging and validated 3-D facial modeling and measurement.
"These high resolution cameras allow for 3-D reconstruction of any wrinkles so that they can be mapped for their key characteristics of width and severity. The severity score is a calculation of the depth and length of a wrinkle," explains Raja Sivamani, MD MS AP, integrative dermatologist and lead researcher on the study.
Skin barrier function was also examined by measuring sebum production (oil secreted by the sebaceous glands) and transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Skin barrier function examines the strength of the skin barrier and how well it protects skin from moisture loss (TEWL) and from harmful irritants in the environment.
Facial wrinkles were measured for depth and severity. After 16 weeks, wrinkle width decreased by 10% and wrinkle severity decreased by 9%. There were no significant changes in skin barrier function between groups.
Promising results, more studies needed
Almonds are a rich source of antioxidants, which help protect against oxidative stress, which can damage molecules in your cells and contribute to inflammation and aging. So it’s worth noting that the effects may not be unique to almonds – they could potentially be attributed to the effects of vitamin E, fatty acids and polyphenols.
The study was limited in size and diversity of subjects, with a larger study underway and future larger studies planned. It concludes by saying the results suggest that eating almonds daily may play a role in reducing wrinkle severity in post-menopausal women, suggesting further studies with expanded population groups and additional evaluations for signs of skin aging.
"Food as a means of promoting skin health – the "health from the inside out" idea – is of growing interest to those looking for options for healthy aging," says Dr. Sivamani. "It's also a growing area of scientific research. Almonds are a rich source of antioxidant vitamin E and deliver essential fatty acids and polyphenols. They're a smart choice for overall good nutrition. And, as seen in this study, almonds may hold promise as a food to include as part of a healthy aging diet, especially for post-menopausal women."
Source: Phytotherapy Research published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd
“Prospective randomized controlled pilot study on the effects of almond consumption on skin lipids and wrinkles”
Authors: N. Fooland et al.