Almonds are a popular variety among edible nuts and are recommended by nutrition experts for a number of reasons. The almonds you can find in the grocery store are the kernels of the small almond fruit, which grows on trees that can reach up to 30 feet in height. They are heart healthy and can be used in a variety of dishes. They also come in different forms: whole, sliced, flaked, slivered, and as flour. Although packaged almonds are available all year round, the fresh crop matures in the autumn season.
The Tiny Kernels Pack
A Mighty Nutritional Punch
Almonds house many different vital nutrients including carbohydrates, vitamins B and E, protein, dietary fiber, monounsaturated fat, and essential minerals that bring blood pressure down. Like other nuts and seeds, almonds contain phytosterols, plant chemicals known to have cholesterol-lowering properties. Because of these nutrients, the consumption of almonds offers multiple health benefits.
Reduced risk of heart disease
According to a study by researchers at the Loma Linda School of Public Health, consuming of nuts like pistachios, walnuts, almonds, or pecans five times a week or more reduces the risk of heart disease by 44 percent in high-nut-eating vegetarians as compared to low nut-eating vegetarians.
Almonds house phytosterols, which are plant chemicals known to dramatically reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol. The high content of monounsaturated fat in almonds also helps promote heart health. In addition to lowering cholesterol, these nuts can bring blood pressure down and reduce the risk of heart disease due to presence of vitamin E, magnesium and potassium – all nutrients proven to have heart healthy benefits.
Effective against diabetes
Researchers have found that almonds play a role in controlling post-meal rises in blood sugar. Adding almonds to meals reduces the glycemic index (GI) of a meal. GI is a measure of the rise in post-meal blood sugar level. The greater the amount of almonds ingested, the lower the GI of the meal and the greater the blunting of the rise in the blood sugar level will be.
Almonds also supply a good amount of plant antioxidants, substances that curb the formation of so-called free radicals, rogue chemicals formed as a result of metabolic reactions inside the body. Try a handful of dry-roasted almonds as a snack, on your salad, or almond butter as a sandwich spread.
Helps with weight loss
Adding almonds to your salad plate or including them in your breakfast can help you with weight control. Almonds contain a surprisingly high amount of protein. A quarter cup of almonds supplies 7.62 grams of protein compared to an egg, which contains just 5.54 grams. The rich protein content makes you feel full for longer periods of time and prevent you from overeating. Fiber content in almonds is also filling and promotes intestinal health. All of these nutrients including monounsaturated fats, protein, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin E nourish the body as well as keep your cravings in check. This in turn is helpful for weight control.
Beneficial for the brain
Almonds are rich in riboflavin and L-carnitine, nutrients that promote healthy functioning of the brain that may also prove effective in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. According to Ayurveda medicine, almonds stimulate the nervous system and help improve intellectual capacity as well as longevity.
Protects artery walls from damage
Almond skins contain flavonoids that in association with vitamin E help reduce the risk of damage to the fragile layer of arterial walls known as the endothelium.
Almonds are superbly heart healthy and have provided health benefits to humans for thousands of years. (Almonds have been cultivated in the Mediterranean regions for over 4,000 years). For the same reasons, nutritionists recommend eating delicious and nutritious almonds every day.
Janet Bond Brill, PhD, RD, LDN is author of the books, “Prevent a Second Heart Attack, 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease” (Random House/Crown Publishing 2011) and “Cholesterol Down: 10 Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in 4 Weeks Without Prescription Drugs” (Random House/Crown Publishing 2006). She is a leading diet- and nutrition writer, educator, and practitioner, and consults for the health- and fitness industry, specializing in cardiovascular disease prevention. For more information, please visit: www.DrJanet.com or www.PreventaSecondHeartAttack.com.
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