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Beauty from the Inside Out: Pilot Study Investigates the Effects of Daily Almond Consumption on Facial Wrinkles

Anti-aging regimens abound but emerging research suggests that one delicious addition to your skincare routine may be in your pantry instead of your makeup kit: almonds. A new pilot study by researchers at the University of California, Davis[1] found that a daily snack of almonds in place of other nut-free snacks improved measures of wrinkle width and severity in postmenopausal women. The study was funded by the Almond Board of California and is the first of its kind to examine almonds’ effects on skin health. A larger and longer-term follow-up study is underway. In this 16-week randomized controlled trial, 28 healthy postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin type 1 or 2 (characterized by increased tendency to burn with sun exposure) were randomly assigned to one of two groups. In the intervention group, women ate almonds as a snack, which accounted for 20% of their total daily calorie intake, or 340 calories per day on average (about 2 one-ounce servings). The control group ate a nut-free snack that also accounted for 20% of calories: a cereal bar, granola bar or pretzels. Aside from these snacks, study participants ate their regular diets and did not eat any nuts or nut-containing products. 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 assessed 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 assessed, by measuring sebum production 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 coming from the environment. By the end of the study at 16 weeks, photographic image analysis showed statistically significant improvements for participants in the almond snack group compared to the control group (P<0.02): Wrinkle width decreased by 10% Wrinkle severity decreased by 9%  There were no significant changes in skin barrier function between groups.  “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.” Study at a Glance: The Study: 28 healthy, postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin type 1 (always burns, never tans) or 2 (usually burns, tans minimally) were randomly assigned to either an intervention or a control group. Almonds were provided as 20% of total daily calorie intake for the intervention group (340 calories/day on average), about 2 one-ounce servings . The control group consumed a calorie-matched nut-free snack in place of almonds daily:  cereal bar, energy bar or pretzels. All participants were advised not to consume any nuts or nut-containing products over the course of the study (except for the almond snack for the intervention group). They otherwise were advised to continue their usual daily energy intake. After a four-week dietary wash-out period, participants were randomized to one of the two study groups detailed above. Study visits occurred at baseline, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks. Facial wrinkles were assessed using high-resolution facial photography and validated 3-D facial modeling and measurement at baseline, 8 weeks and 16 weeks. Skin barrier function was assessed by measurement of sebum production and transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Results: Photographic image analysis showed that the almond group had significant reductions in wrinkle width and severity, by 10 and 9%, respectively, compared to the control group at the 16-week time point (P<0.02). There were no significant differences in sebum production between groups after 8 and 16 weeks. There were no significant differences between groups in transepidermal water loss (TEWL) from baseline after 8 and 16 weeks. There were no significant changes from baseline in the skin barrier function (P=0.65) between the almond and control groups relative to baseline after 16 weeks.  Study Limitations: Aging is a long-lasting process so the findings from this 16-week study may be difficult to reproduce and generalize to extended periods of time. Skin-aging is also multi-factorial in nature and although certain groups were excluded (i.e., those with a smoking history), there is variance in aging confounders, such as frequency of UV light exposure and emotional stress, which were outside the scope of the study. This study was limited to cosmetic evaluation, as no measurements were made regarding collagen production. Study did not evaluate disease or younger subjects, so results are limited to otherwise healthy post-menopausal females. In addition, this was a pilot study with a limited number of participants. Future studies should expand to a larger recruitment pool.  Conclusion: Results of this pilot study suggest that daily consumption of almonds may play a role in reducing wrinkle severity in post-menopausal women. The outcomes warrant future studies with expanded population groups and additional evaluations for signs of skin aging.   [1] Foolad N, Vaughn AR, Rybak I, Burney WA, Chodur GM, Newman JW, Steinberg FM, Sivamani RK. Prospective randomized controlled pilot study on the effects of almond consumption on skin lipids and wrinkles. Phytotherapy Research. 2019;1–6. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.6495    
Pilot Study Investigates the Effects of Daily Almond Consumption on Facial Wrinkles
News Article
// Nutrition & Wellness

Here's how almonds get harvested in the Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Almonds are the top crop in Fresno County and the second-largest in the state, but unless you grew up near orchards, you may not know how they're harvested. "They're okay to drop and they can take a little more of a beating," said Emin Dhaliwal. His company, Pacific Distributing Inc., sells the tree shakers used to literally shake the almonds free from their branches. The practice is fun to watch if you've never seen it: a mechanical arm grabs the trunk of the tree, then vigorously shakes until the ground around it is covered with almonds, still safe in their hulls. Each tree takes a matter of seconds and the settings can be adjusted to be softer on younger trees. "I've heard they used to take tarps out and beat them with mallets," Dhaliwal said when asked how almonds were farmed before shakers came around. The same practice is also used for some other nuts, including walnuts. Dhaliwal estimated that one drive in a tree shaker can shakedown 20-30 acres in a day, and he estimates they've sold about 100 machines in the Central Valley just this year. The high-efficiency is needed when you consider that California supplies 80% of the world's almonds.   "Almonds are the number one crop in Fresno County, number two in California," said Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen. "One in five almonds are coming from Fresno County, it's an integral part of our local ag industry." The crop has become a solid alternative for Valley farmers who were struggling with other crops in years past. Jacobsen also said he estimates there are about 100,000 jobs directly or indirectly tied to the California almond industry. As far as the harvest goes, it's a process explained by Michael Favagrossa of Favagrossa Farms. "This time of year is the only time a lot of farmers get paid," Favagrossa said regarding the importance of harvest season. "They go all year long hoping and praying that they're gonna make a crop, and this is the time of year they see am I gonna be okay until next year." Favagrossa said he thinks the majority of almond farmers are going to be happy with this year's yield, despite a wet spring that had some worried. He says either way, it should be an improvement on the year before. Harvest season will last until early November.
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// About the Almond Industry
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