Ingredient Spotlight: Almonds
By Wilfredo Benitez Onpacewellness.com
Disclaimer: While the nutritional information contained within this article is supported through research, individuals on a strict diet plan or with a condition should consult with their physician before introducing almonds or other tree nuts into their diet.
Did you know that almond trees depend entirely on the pollination from bees? Well now you know! Almond tree farmers often have to rent bees to pollinate the crops which is part of the high costs of producing almonds and why almond butter costs so much! But let’s put money and bees aside and talk almonds!
Almonds are high in fat, but that doesn’t mean that consumption of them should be avoided. This nutritious nut is high in mostly monounsaturated but also polyunsaturated fat, or the “healthy fats” which have been associated with various health benefits, including lower LDL cholesterol and improved heart health. For some people and health conditions, the high fat content is cause for hesitancy, but with the many benefits of almonds and the healthy fats within them, this is one nut that you may want to add to your grocery list if it is not already a regular.
There are different types of fats: saturated fats and unsaturated fats which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Almonds have a greater amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids compared to other fatty acids and this is where most of the benefits of almonds come from. It is well supported that monounsaturated fats can help reduce triglycerides, a form of fat that, when high in the body, has been linked to a greater risk for heart disease. One study even found that the risk of heart disease was 37% lower for individuals who ate nuts more than four times a week compared to those who never or rarely consumed nuts. Eating nuts and nut butter is great, but making your own nut milk at home and using the pulp as well is a great way to incorporate nuts or almonds into your diet.
If you’re worried about weight gain as a result of including nuts in your diet, you can release that worry. There are numerous studies that debunk the idea that eating nuts leads to weight gain. In fact, many studies have shown that a diet that includes a healthy amount of nuts is linked to improved weight control and prevention of weight gain. Having a diet very high in fat when it is not necessary may indeed lead to weight gain and other issues, but this is why an intake of a healthy amount of fats and nuts is key to maximizing the benefits of nuts.
Lastly, I would be doing a disservice to almonds if I didn’t speak to their high amount of Vitamin E. This essential vitamin is known for its benefits for skin and hair, but it is also a powerful antioxidant that protects cells. Vitamin E can even protect against heart disease by reducing the risk for atherosclerosis. Just a quarter cup of almonds provides about 40% of one’s daily recommended intake of Vitamin E.
What are you waiting for? Go and get some almonds! Want to improve their nutritional potential? Soak them in water for 3-4 hours or overnight, rinse them, and enjoy! More about this in another post!
--The author of this article loves almond butter, but wishes it wasn’t so dang expensive! Feel free to connect with him via his blog, IG (@onpacewellness), or on Twitter (@BenitezHealth).