That Almond Appeal

March 12, 2011

6RHXQ287N3YM Adding a few ounces of almonds to your daily nutritional regimen is easy, fast and tasty. It also comes with a growing list of healthy benefits, as more research underscores the positive effect eating almonds has on cholesterol levels, heart health, insulin balance and much more! High in protein, fiber and monounsaturated fats, almonds are also rich in complex carbohydrates and requires the body to use  a high amount of energy to processe. Known as one of the most nutritious of all nuts, almonds are actually seeds!  They rate at the top of the premium health food category consisting whole foods such as nuts and grains. In fact, when nutrition scientists presented their research findings in a symposium entitled "Nuts in a Healthful Diet," at the 1998 Experimental Biology annual meeting,  Dr. Gary Beecher  of the USDA-ARS stated  "I have never seen this diversity of phytochemicals in a single food source." In addition to being a nutritional powerhouse, almonds are low in saturated fat and contain many other protective nutrients such as calcium and magnesium, helping build strong bones and vitamin E and  phytochemicals, which may help protect against cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Recent studies strongly indicate that they aid in the reduction of heart attack risks and lower cholesterol. Did I mention that they help stabilize blood sugar spikes, improve insulin resistance and lower the risk of diabetes? Exactly what is in almonds that make them so good for you?
  • one ounce contains as much as 12 percent of your daily allowance of protein, 35 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin E.
  • are the best whole food source of vitamin E, which may help prevent cancer and build a healthy heart.
  • are a great source of the folic acid you need, an excellent source for expectant mothers.
  • contain more magnesium than oatmeal or even spinach.
  • most of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated, also known as the "good" fat.
  • contain phosphorus to help build strong bones and teeth.
With all that to offer, it's not surprising that the amount of research being conducted on almond's healthful properties is impressive.  Here are just a few:
  • A recent study showed that including almonds in a diet that’s already low in saturated fat and cholesterol lowers your cholesterol even more. In fact,  The American Heart Association eased its recommendation that no more than 30 percent of our calories come from fat, saying that additional fat is okay, if it’s unsaturated,  like the monounsaturated fat found in almonds!
  • Dr. Paul Davis, Ph.D, of the University of California has studied the potential effects of whole almonds on an array of colon cancer variables and concluded that the monounsaturated fat in almonds may have a positive impact in the reduction of colon cancer.
  • Research from Penn State showed that the phytochemicals in almonds inhibited tumor cell growth. Many studies suggest that vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, protects against prostate and cervical cancers.
  • A study from Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health that was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition shows that almond consumption can lessen the effect of high blood sugar, prevent insulin resistance and lower levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol. This study involved 65 prediabetic adults that were broken into two groups. The control group ate a healthy diet low in carbohydrates for 16 weeks and excluded all nuts, the other group consumed the same diet but included 20 percent of its total calories from almonds. Testing showed that the almond group had significantly better insulin levels and improved markers for insulin resistance. The study authors also concluded that the high fiber content and unsaturated fats in almonds helps prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and reduces risk of cardiovascular disease. Another study from Loma Linda School of Public Health showed that consuming nuts five times a week reduces the risk of a heart attack by 50 percent.
  • Nutritional studies confirm that almonds regulate blood sugar and prevent insulin resistance that lowers the risk from diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • The International Journal of Obesity published the results of a study that shows almonds have a potential role in the public health implications of obesity. This study indicated that almonds provide a sensation of fullness and are beneficial for people trying to lose weight. One study showed that the people who substituted almonds for 500 calories of their daily caloric intake lost more weight than those receiving their calories from other sources.  Further research demonstrates that almonds actually contribute to accelerated fat metabolism and can reduce the incidence of overweight and obesity.
The calcium found in almonds may lower risks of colon and rectal cancers. Almonds’ fiber content may also help protect against colon cancer. The folic acid in almonds may help reduce the risk of cervical cancers. Researchers in Finland have even linked almonds to a reduction in risk of lung cancers. Are you ready to add almonds to your diet?  Try them plain from the shell, slivered on oatmeal or as almond butter on whole grain crackers, get creative!  You'll get great benefits from just a handful of almonds every day, you'd be a nut not to!

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