Almonds are popular nuts found in many recipes, desserts and garnishes. They are commonly known as a delightfully crunchy and savory snack food found in nut and trail mixes, with numerous health benefits. In actuality, they are the seeds from the fruit of the almond tree, bearing a similar resemblance to the pit of peaches and apricots. Here is an in-depth look at the nutritional benefits of almonds and why you should be adding them to your daily diet.
Almonds rank very high in nutritional value, providing a significant amount of the recommended daily value for vitamin E and manganese. Almonds are also a good source for the following vitamins and nutrients:
Dietary fiber and omega 3 fatty acid are just a few more reasons to eat almonds for their nutritional value. The fiber found in almonds can help lower cholesterol while making you feel fuller so you eat less, and the omega 3 fatty acid helps maintain a strong and healthy cardiovascular system.
- Lowers "bad" cholesterol: The monounsaturated fats found in almonds help lower LDL Cholesterol, also known as the "bad" cholesterol, while increasing HDL cholesterol, which is known as the "good" cholesterol. This makes almonds effective for reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Diabetes prevention: By lowering the amount of "bad" cholesterol in the body, almonds are also reducing the amount of free radicals in the body that coincide with spikes in blood sugar levels that lead to type 2 diabetes.
- Reduced risk of cancer: Boron, a nutrient found in almonds, has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Studies suggest that boron can help shrink prostate tumors, though more testing is required to determine why boron has this affect. Other sources of boron include avocados, apricots, raisins and hazel nuts.
- Healthier digestive track: Almonds are rich in fiber, which helps regulate the digestive system reducing diarrhea and constipation, leading to smoother bowel movements.
- Good for heart health: Omega 3 fatty acid, coupled with the antioxidant vitamin E, reduces the risk of heart disease, while the magnesium found in almonds help prevent heart attacks. The folic acid found in almonds can also help reduce the risk of plaque build-up within the arteries.
- Weight control: Although almonds have a higher caloric content than one would expect from such a nutrient-dense food, researchers suggest that they can help dieters lose weight. This may be attributed to the amount of fiber present in each almond, which creates a more satisfying snack and reduces snacking.
Adding More Almonds to Your Diet
Now that you've read about all the different ways almonds can be beneficial to your body, it's time to figure out ways to get more of them. Here are a few suggestions:
- Carry a small bag of almonds in your pocket or bag so that you have a ready-to-eat snack, even when you're on the go.
- Replace those potato chips and popcorn with almonds or a healthy trail mix that contain almonds when you watch TV.
- Throw some crushed almonds into your yogurt, frozen yogurt or cereal for some added flavor and crunch.
- Almonds can be easily worked into just about any salad rather than using croutons.
- Swap out peanut butter for almond butter as a spread.
Things to Watch Out For
Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy the nutritional value of almonds. Anyone who suffers from an allergic reaction to almonds should stop eating them immediately. Consult your physician before adding almonds to your diet, to verify if you are allergic to this type of nut.
While almonds are widely praised for their numerous health benefits, they contain a significant amount of calories. Make sure you are eating almonds in moderation, and incorporating them with a healthy and well-balanced diet.