Almonds have a newly found prebiotic benefit, according to a recent study published in the journal Anaerobe. That crunchy, healthy nut you love is even better for you than you thought. Both almonds and almond skins were found to increase beneficial Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus while also reducing levels of the potential pathogen Clostridium perfringens.

The study involved 48 healthy young adults aged 18 to 22 who were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first group ate 56 grams (about 1/3 cup) of roasted almonds each day; the second group ate 10 grams of almond skins daily; and the third group added 8 grams of the prebiotic fructooligosaccharide (FOS).

Not long after beginning the study, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli levels increased in the groups eating almond skins and taking FOS. It took longer for levels of these good bacteria to increase in those eating whole almonds, but by the end of six weeks, they, too, enjoyed higher levels of friendly bifido and lacto bacteria. “These results indicated the stimulation effects of almond skin and almond intake were typical prebiotic effects,” noted the scientists.

More studies will be needed to confirm these effects, but I bet that before long almonds will be known as a true prebiotic food. Until then, keep eating those almonds. Sprouted almonds are my personal favorite.