More Firsts for Almond Nutrition Research

The annual conference of the American Society of Nutrition (ASN) was held in San Diego, April 21-25, and brought together over 1000 of the world’s top researchers and nutrition policymakers, along with food industry members. The Almond Board of California (ABC) is a sustaining member of ASN, along with multinational food companies and other commodity groups. This is the primary U.S.–based scientific conference where almond industry–funded nutrition research is presented annually. This year, there were eight posters presented related to almonds and heart health, diabetes prevention, skin tissue protection, weight management and newly characterized almond phytochemicals.

For the first time, ABC sponsored a pre-conference symposium to showcase our last 10 years worth of research related to almonds and weight management. The session was titled “What Do We Really Know about Whole Foods Digestibility and Energy Values? ” The four invited researchers from the U.S. and the UK shared their findings about new approaches that may enable a more accurate assessment of the energy values (calorie level) of various foods. They wove their almond-related results into presentations that ranged from “The role of plant food structure in digestion,” to “You can’t judge a food by its form,” to “The ins and outs of the energy values of food” to “Calories or types of calories for weight loss.” The contribution of plant food structure and breakdown from chewing on macronutrient digestibility, energy absorption and weight management was fully explored.

ABC Nutrition Research Committee were delighted that Dr. C-Y. Oliver Chen, an ABC–funded researcher from Tufts University/USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston, was awarded the ASN Mary Swartz Rose Junior Investigator Award. This is given to an investigator within 10 years of postgraduate training on the safety and efficacy of bioactive compounds for human health.The scope of his work includes characterizing the polyphenol content of berry fruit, tree nuts, and whole grains, as well as investigating their bioavailability, metabolism and mechanisms of action. He has published eight papers on the impact of these phytochemicals in almonds and their interactions with other nutrients on antioxidant and anti-inflammatory risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. He is currently the co-investigator of a long-term controlled feeding trial of 1.5 ounces of almond fed daily for three months to middle-aged Chinese-type diabetics in Taiwan.