The 2021 study – published in Nutrients and funded by the Almond Board of California – expands upon findings of a 2019 study that found there may be more than one reason to add almonds to a daily skin care routine.
During a six-month trial, 49 healthy postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin type 1 (always burns, never tans) or II (usually burns, tans minimally) 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 two 30g servings), providing 2g of sugar.
The second group snacked on either a fig bar, granola bar and pretzels, also accounting for 20% of their daily calories, providing on average 8g of sugar.
All participants were advised not to consume any nuts or nut-containing products over the course of the study (except for the almond snacks). While the snacks were calorie-matched, they were no macronutrient-match, and study participants stuck to their regular diets.
Skin assessments were made at the start of the study and again at 8 weeks, 16 weeks and 24 weeks. Participants were weighed at each interval and measurements taken to evaluate facial wrinkles and pigment intensity using high-resolution facial imaging and validated 3-D facial modelling. Skin hydration, transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and sebum excretion were also assessed at each point of the study.
While results found body weight remained constant for both groups, the women who snacks on almonds showed a significant reduction in wrinkle severity: a 15% reduction at 16 weeks and 16% reduction at 24 weeks.
There was also a noteworthy decrease in overall facial pigment intensity (unevenness of skin tone) among the almond snackers by up to 20% by week 16.
“Daily consumption of almonds may be an effective means of improving the appearance of facial wrinkles and skin tone among postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin types I and II,” said Dr Raja Sivamani, dermatologist and lead researcher.
“Consumers may describe this reduced pigmentation effect as having a more even skin tone.”
No changes in transepidermal water loss was detected any time point among all the subjects, and at the end of the study, there were increases in skin hydration among both groups.
Both groups also showed an increase of sebum excretion on the cheeks, with only those in the control group showing an increase of this on the forehead.
The researchers concluded that almonds – which are high in vitamin E that has a powerful antioxidant functions – may be responsible for the effects they saw in both wrinkles and skin tone.
“Our findings emphasise the need to look at almonds as a whole food with multiple nutrient components including alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) and good unsaturated fats, rather than oversimplifying potential benefits due to one nutrient alone,” added Dr Sivamani.
Since this study was limited to 24 weeks, results do not provide insight into longer duration and effects of eating almonds. Additionally, the study participants were postmenopausal women with sun sensitive skin types Fitzpatrick I and II, so results cannot be generalised to younger, male or higher Fitzpatrick skin type populations.
As such, more research is warranted to investigate the impact of almond consumption in other populations.
The Almond Board of California – established in 1950 – is a non-profit organisation that promotes the consumption of natural, wholesome and quality almonds through market development, research and adoption of industry best practices on behalf of the more than 7,600 almond farmers and processors in California.
Authors: Sivamani RK, Rybak I, Carrington AE, Dhaliwal S, et al
Nutrients. 2021; 13(3):785
Author: Sivamani RK, Foolad N, Vaughn AR, Rybak I, et al
Phytother Res. 2019 Dec;33(12):3212-3217