With Christmas creeping upon us, it is time to stock up on almonds. A prominent ingredient in Christmas cakes, puddings and mincemeat, almonds feature frequently on the seasonal shopping list. What makes almonds so popular? They are ridiculously delicious when used in desserts, spreads, salads or when eaten alone as a snack and they have amazing health benefits.
Here are 9 evidence-based benefits of nuts:
- Almonds Deliver a Massive Amount of Nutrients
A 1 ounce (28 grams or a small handful) serving of almonds contain 3.5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat (9 of which are monounsaturated), Vitamin E, Manganese, Magnesium, Vitamin B and Phosphorous.
- Almonds are Loaded with Antioxidants
Almonds are high in antioxidants that can help protect your cells from oxidative damage, a major contributor in aging and causing diseases. The powerful antioxidants in almonds are largely concentrated in the brown layer of the skin. For this reason, blanched almonds are not the best choice from a health perspective.
- Almonds are High in Vitamin E
Vitamin E tends to build up in cell membranes in the body, protecting the cells from oxidative damage. Just one ounce of almonds provides a staggering 37% of the recommended daily intake. Several studies have linked higher vitamin E intake with lower rates of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Almonds Can Assist with Blood Sugar Control
Nuts are low in carbs, but high in healthy fats, protein and fiber. This makes them a perfect choice for diabetics. The remarkably high amount of magnesium in almonds help prevent metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, both of which are massive health problems today.
- Magnesium Also Has Benefits for Blood Pressure Levels
A deficiency in magnesium is strongly linked to blood pressure problems. Studies show that the magnesium in almonds may help to lower blood pressure levels. Correcting a magnesium deficiency can lead to major reductions in blood pressure.
- Almonds Can Control Cholesterol Levels
Having high levels of LDLlipoproteins(the “bad” cholesterol) in the blood is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. A 16-week study in 65 pre-diabetic subjects found that a diet with 20% of calories from almonds lowered LDL cholesterol levels by an average of 12.4 mg/dL (28). Another study found that 1.5 ounces (42 grams) of almonds per day lowered LDL cholesterol by 5.3 mg/dL, while maintaining the “good” HDL cholesterol.
- Almonds Prevent Harmful Oxidation of LDL Cholesterol
Almonds also protect LDL levels in the blood from oxidation, which is a crucial step in the heart disease process. The skin of almonds is rich in polyphenol antioxidants, which have been shown to prevent oxidation of cholesterol in test tubes and animal studies. The effect may be even stronger when combined with other antioxidants, like vitamin E.
- Eating Almonds Reduced Hunger, Lowering Your Overall Calorie Intake
Both protein and fibre are known to increase satiety. They help people feel more full, so they end up eating fewer calories. In a 4-week study with 137 participants, a daily 1.5 ounce (43 grams) serving of almonds significantly reduced hunger and desire to eat. Numerous other studies support the hunger-fighting effects of nuts.
- Almonds are Incredibly Effective for Weight Loss
Nuts contain several nutrients that are hard for the body to break down and digest. About 10-15% of the calories in nuts aren’t absorbed, and there is some evidence that eating nuts can boost metabolism slightly. Combined with the hunger-fighting properties, it makes sense that nuts are a great addition to an effective weight loss diet. Despite being high in fat, almonds are a weight loss friendly food.
Source: Joe Leech (Dietitian)