Going nuts for almonds!
By Laura Hogg
I can put away a bag of almonds like nobody's business. It's almost embarrassing, really. I keep a 1 lb. bag of almonds on my desk at work, but I have to put it away at a certain point of the day - otherwise, I'll eat the whole thing and have almost no appetite for lunch (which, admittedly, has happened more than once).
If someone were to ask me why I eat so many almonds, I'd have two responses: "They're a great snack, and they're healthy." Now, on the first point, there's really nothing to debate. But lately I've realized that I really don't know anything with regards to the second point. My knowledge of the health benefits of almonds has been, to this point, pretty vague. But if I'm going to keep blowing through bags of them throughout the work day, I figure I should actually know something beyond "They're healthy!"
So, here's what I've found:
- Protein, protein, protein! This is a big one for me, since I have to watch my protein intake - I never eat meat and only rarely eat fish. One quarter cup of almonds packs a protein punch: it contains nearly 8 grams! To contrast, one egg typically contains around 5.5 grams of protein.
- They feed your heart and mind. Almonds have been shown over and over again to be a heart-healthy addition to your diet. Just one handful of almonds per day has been shown to lower significantly your "bad" cholesterol (LDL) numbers. Studies have shown that people who include nuts in their diet tend to have a lower risk of heart disease. Almonds also contain tryptophan and phosphorus, which are key in brain development.
- Mega magnesium. Another point that is of special interest to me as a chronic migraine sufferer: almonds are full of magnesium, with just one quarter cup providing 25% of your daily value of magnesium. What's so great about magnesium? Essentially, this mineral allows your veins and arteries to relax, improving blood flow, strengthening your bones, and aiding nerve function. Diets high in magnesium have been linked to lower risk of high blood pressure, headaches, imbalanced blood sugar, and heart problems such as arrhythmia.
- And the list goes on...Reading through a list of the vitamins and minerals contained in almonds is kind of like reading through a general list of the nutrients you need to be healthy. For example, almonds are a great source of the following:
- Vitamin E
This list barely scratches the surface of the benefits of this super nut. Almonds have also been shown to aid weight loss, gallstone prevention, and healthy diabetes management.
As always, the old adage "all things in moderation" applies. But I know that when I'm feeling hungry, almonds will remain my guilt-free, go-to snack!
Bonus tip: I love drinking almond milk - and now I've found a recipe to make my own! I can't wait to try it.