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The Surprising Health Benefits of Almonds

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Wondering why everyone's nuts about almonds? There's lots to love—these are the top benefits of munching on almonds. 

You could drop body fat. If you're trying to lose belly fat, almonds could be your secret weapon. Not only will a morning or afternoon snack of just 23 almonds—about one ounce—give you the balance of fiber, protein, and good fats to keep you energized, but a study of overweight adults compared snacking on almonds to snacking on a muffin with the same number of calories every day for six weeks. The almond group lost body fat and inches around their waists, suggesting that replacing higher-carb snacks with protein-rich snacks could boost fat loss. (Here's 10 other high-protein foods to add to your grocery list.)

You'll stabilize that blood sugar. More and more people are visiting the doctor worried about low energy levels, feeling shaky and nauseous between meals, and having uncontrollable urges for sugar and refined carbs. When we take a look at their diets, usually they're sending their blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride by eating high-glycemic foods. The glycemic index is a measure of how food affects your blood sugar levels—foods that are low on the glycemic index provide a slow, steady release of sustained energy so you aren't dipping too low or running out of energy too fast, while those high on the index tend to spike it too quickly and cause a crash later in the day. Almonds are low on the glycemic index, and study of people with type 2 diabetes found that following a diet that included almonds for four weeks improved blood sugar and insulin levels. 

Your heart will be healthier. Almonds are rich in healthy monounsaturated fat and are an excellent source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that lowers inflammation. That's why the American Heart Association has awarded almonds the Heart-Check mark to demonstrate that they're good for your ticker. Almonds can also help lower the risk of heart disease—without otherwise changing people's diets, researchers found that adding almonds each day for six months increased healthy HDL cholesterol levels and reduced unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels. The people with the highest cholesterol levels saw the biggest improvements, reducing their heart disease risk.

Your insides will thank you. It's no secret that your digestive system loves fiber. Including plenty of fiber-rich foods such as almonds in your diet supports your body's natural detoxification from your colon and lowers the risk of cancer. Not to mention almonds may help boost the good bacteria and lower the bad bacteria in your digestive tract, which could mean a happier belly. 

Your bones will be stronger. Did you know that, compared to other nuts, almonds are the highest in calcium per ounce? That's not all: Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium and a good source of phosphorus, and these minerals work with calcium to promote bone strength and prevent osteoporosis. #Winning. 

Dietitian-Approved Ways to Enjoy Almonds

How can you add more almonds into your day? Check out these ideas from dietitians.

Breakfast

  • Put slivered almonds in oatmeal, granola, and yogurt. —Christy Brissette, M.S., R.D.
  • To make pancakes with more staying power, use almond flour to boost protein and fiber (try these almond blueberry pancakes). —Christy Brissette, M.S., R.D.
  • Add almond butter into a morning smoothie to stay full until lunchtime. Jessica Penner, R.D., Smart Nutrition 
  • Use almonds to decorate your smoothie bowls or top your whole-grain cereal. Roxana Begum, Ph.D., R.D.

Lunch

  • Add slivered almonds to your salad for an extra boost of nutrients. Dixya Bhattarai, R.D.
  • Pair with fresh or dried fruit, like a spoonful of almond butter on an apple or eating whole almonds with apple slices. Kim Melton, R.D. (Pro tip: To get the right portion size, use a shot glass or a 1/4 cup measuring cup, or order a fun tin from the Almond Board of California to keep in your purse.)
  • For a snack, choose a healthy bar that lists almonds as the first ingredient (Like KIND's Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond Bars) —Christy Brissette, M.S., R.D.

Dinner

  • Crunch up almonds or use almond flour mixed with herbs for a delicious gluten-free crust for chicken and fish. —Christy Brissette, M.S., R.D.
  • Mix slivered or sliced almonds into dinner salads or roasted green beans and broccoli. —Christy Brissette, M.S., R.D.
  • Add to stir-fry or rice pilaf for added crunch. —Christy Brissette, M.S., R.D.

 

Christy Brissette, RD

Christy Brissette is one of North America’s top dietitians and a leading nutrition and food communications expert. She is the President of 80 Twenty Nutrition, a nutrition and food media company and private practice. Her mission? To end food confusion and dieting once and for all.  More →

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