There are many different nuts and they all make quick, healthy snacks. One particular nut, the almond, seems to be gaining popularity these days. Not only are almonds versatile and delicious, but they have an incredible list of health benefits! So here’s the scoop on almonds…
Almonds are considered a nut by almost everyone, although they are technically a seed. They are the seed from the fruit of the almond tree, a tree that produces sweet smelling pink and white flowers.
Nutritionally, almonds pack a good punch, and they have many health benefits. One cup of almonds contains about 30 grams of protein, 17 grams of dietary fiber, 385 mg of calcium, about 70 grams of healthy fat and no cholesterol.
9 top health benefits of almonds:
- Lowers LDL cholesterol: Contains monosaturated fats (the same type of fat that is found in olive oil), which lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Studies have shown this can lead to a reduced risk of heart disease.
- Helps skin and mucous membranes: Contains Vitamin E, an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and may also be a factor in the reducing the risk of heart disease. Vitamin E also helps the body’s mucous membranes and the skin.
- Improves circulatory system: Contains magnesium, which improves the body’s circulatory system by helping the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
- Helps the muscles: Contains potassium, which helps the body’s muscles (including the heart muscle) and nerves.
- Helps control blood sugar: Almonds help control blood sugar levels by providing good carbohydrates (fiber), protein and healthy fats. This slows the digestion of foods, and reduces the chances of unhealthy blood sugar ‘spikes’.
- Antioxidants to fight free radicals: Contain a significant amount of antioxidants, just like other nuts such as pecans, walnuts and chestnuts.
- Weight loss benefits: A study published in the journal “Obesity” stated that people who ate nuts at least twice per week were less likely to gain weight than people who do not regularly eat nuts.
- Deactivates free radicals: Contains copper, a trace mineral that is a cofactor of an enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD deactivates free radicals produced within our cells, thus reducing oxidative stress.
- Helps produce energy: More vitamins and minerals: Almonds contain riboflavin (Vitamin B2), which helps our body produce oxygen-based energy. Other important nutrients contained in almonds are calcium, selenium, zinc, and iron.
Nuts have a natural coating on them, which keeps the bugs from eating them. This coating can sometimes make the nuts more difficult to digest. The solution is to ‘activate’ the raw nuts to remove that coating and make the nutrition in the nuts more easily available to us. Read more about activating raw nuts.
Although almonds are extremely healthy, there is a potential risk of allergic reaction to them. If you are allergic to almonds (or nuts in general), it is always best to read labels when buying packaged foods to make sure that almonds or tree nuts are not hiding in the product. Almonds are typically used to make marzipan, praline, frangipane and some liquers. They can also be found in baked goods such as cakes and cookies.
For those who are celiac or sensitive to gluten (and not allergic to nuts), almond flour is a great alternative to use in baked goods, since it contains both fiber and protein. Other healthy gluten free flours include quinoa flour, chickpea flour, amaranth flour and millet flour. Try this healthy shortbread cookie recipe made with almond flour: Chocolate Almond Shortbread – Gluten Free.
If you are interested in learning more about healthy foods and how to harness the power of nutrition for optimal health, contact me!
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