They look just like any other nut, but nutritionists
say almonds are packed with heart-healthy nutrients, especially
monounsaturated fat, plant protein and dietary fiber that
reduce "bad" cholesterol.
According to the American Dietetic Association, researchers
at the University of Toronto found that a diet rich with
almonds lowered LDL cholesterol-that's the bad stuff-by
29 percent those who study participants that ate heart-healthy
diets of almonds, soy protein, margarine spreads containing
plant sterols, and dietary fiber. Researchers noted that
prescription medication will lower bad cholesterol by
Almonds are the best nut source of Vitamin E. In fact,
just one ounce contains 7.3 mg of "alpha-tocopherol"
vitamin E, the form of the vitamin the body prefers, according
to a dietetic association fact sheet. What's more, Vitamin
E is an important antioxidant that helps protect cells
Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration jumped on
almond's band wagon in 2003 when it approved the following
"qualified" health claim for most nuts, including
almonds: "Scientific evidence suggests but does not
prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such
as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and
cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease."
In addition to almonds, other nuts covered by the FDA's
claim are hazelnuts, peacans, pistachios, walnuts and
The Almond Board of California says that almonds rank
as the country's largest horticultural export. More than
6,000 growers produce nearly all of the commercial domestic
supply of almonds and more than 75 percent of the worldwide
The dietary association recommends that weight-conscious
folks should substitute almonds for other foods, especially
less nutrient-dense foods. Research as shown that when
almonds are eaten in place of less nutritious foods, there
is no significant change in body weight-and for people
keeping an eye on their waistlines, that's a good thing.
However, you can munch on almonds as an indulgence or
make them parts of a health-healthy diet when eaten in
moderate portions. One serving of almonds is one-and-a-half
ounces or about one-third of a cup.
Here are some tips from the American Dietetic Association
on making snacks and meals nutty with almonds:
<> Choose a handful for a snack, rather than cookies
<> Sprinkle them on salads or bowls of cereal;
<> Add almonds to yogurt and top with fruit;
<> Toss chopped almonds into a vegetarian stir-fry;
<> Add crunch to rice and pasta dishes;
<> Spread almond butter on toast or bagels.
For more information on almonds, visit the American Dietetic
Association, www.ada.org; or almond sites, www.almonds.com,
www.AlmondsAreIn.com, www.almondboard.com, www.awesomealmonds.com
and www.nutsforalmonds.com, among others.