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All-Star of the Day: Almonds

Posted Sep 12 2008 11:50am
Yet another victim of the fat-phobic 90s, almonds are finally getting the respect they deserve.

And why shouldn’t they? One ounce of almonds (about 23 pieces) amount to 163 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and 37 percent of our vitamin E, 19 percent of our magnesium, and 36 percent of our manganese daily requirements.

Magnesium might not be as popular as iron or calcium, but it is an extremely important mineral to have in our diets. Without it, our veins resist bloodflow, increasing our risk of high blood pressure and blood clot formation.

Those 6 grams of protein are very special. Arginine, a protein found in almonds, has been shown to make our arteries more elastic, therefore reducing the risk of plaque buildup on their walls.

That alone make almonds a wonderful food for cardiovascular health. But they wouldn’t be all-stars unless they offered even more benefits.

Take this. Research by the American Heart Association concluded that eating just one ounce of almonds every day for 30 days lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol by 4 and a half percent!

“But almonds are fatty,” I have a feeling some of you are thinking.

Let’s put this to rest once and for all. Eating a handful of nuts every day does NOT make you fat. There’s plenty of research to back this up.

The people in the study I just mentioned were eating 23 almonds every day for a month and they didn’t gain an ounce of weight.

How can that be? A team of scientists at Purdue University found that people who consumed almonds on a daily basis reduced calories from other food sources. For example, if they had almonds in their salad, they didn’t eat bread or ask for dessert; if they had almonds as an afternoon snack, they weren’t craving candy or Doritos at 4 o’clock.

Over at London’s King College, another interesting hypothesis has emerged. Researchers believe the fiber makeup of almonds alone may reduce the amount of fat (and calories) we absorb from these delicious nuts!

As if that wasn’t enough, a Harvard study found that participants who added an ounce of almonds a day to an otherwise low-fat eating plan lost the same amount of weight as those who didn’t.

Here is the really surprising part. Six months later, the almonds eaters kept the weight off, while those who continued their diet low in fat and calories had GAINED some of the weight back!

So, please, have a handful of raw almonds and ENJOY THEM!

There’s more. Almonds are worth having in our anti-diabetes arsenal. When consumed with a meal, almonds helped lower blood sugar levels after eating.

Meanwhile, a 20-year long dietary analysis conducted by the Nurses’ Health Study demonstrated that, once again, just 1 ounce of almonds a day lowers the risk of developing gallstones by as much as 25 percent.

To get the most out of these nutrition A-listers, be sure to buy the raw kind and store them in the fridge once opened to slow down their spoilage. Munch away!
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