Nutritionists around the world agree that almond is one of the healthiest foods. Almond is a seed of the fruit of the almond tree. This delicately flavored seed is available throughout the year and is most fresh around mid summer as its season reaches at its peak. Packaged almonds are easily available at any drugs store. The shell is usually already removed in packaged almonds.
Almonds are Rich in Good Fats
Nutritionists have also labeled almond as a high fat food. Then why do they have it on world’s healthiest foods list? Well this is so because almonds are packed with not just any fats, but monosaturated fats. This is the fat that is good to maintain an optimum heart health. However, polysaturated fats increase LDL (bad cholesterol) in the body. Increased LDL means more chances of it lodging in arteries and obstructing blood flow to vital organs in the body. It can cause a heart attack if it happens to coronary arteries.
Almonds Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
Monosaturated fats are also known as good fats and found in olive oil as well. Several studies have proved that consumption of monosaturated fats reduces risk of heart disease. Researchers studied data from Nurse Health study and found out that replacing monosaturated fats with saturated fats as in red meat and dairy products helps reduce the risk for heart disease by 45 percent. Similarly, carbohydrates can also be replaced by monosaturated fats for risk reduction by 30 percent. In addition to cholesterol lowering effects of almonds, another way it can reduce heart disease is by its antioxidant action. Almond owes its antioxidant effect to Vitamin E.
Almonds are Loaded with Minerals
Almond is also rich in essential minerals including magnesium and potassium. Both of which are great for heart health especially for people suffering with hypertension. Most hypertension patients take calcium channel blocking drugs to reduce their blood pressure. Magnesium is known as natures own calcium channel blocker. In presence of magnesium, arteries are able to relax and resistance to blood flow is decreased, this directly reduces blood pressure. Improved blood flow also increases rate of transport of oxygen and nutrients in the body. Absence of magnesium following a heart attack can lead to inflammation and free radical injury to the heart.
Almonds for Blood Pressure and Diabetes
Potassium is a mineral that plays an important role in nerve transmission and muscle contraction including cardiac muscles. Almonds provide your body with 162 mg of potassium which helps protect against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.
Significant increase in blood sugar occurs right after a meal. This sudden surge in blood glucose level can cause free radical cholesterol damage and can be a reason of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This is the reason doctors recommend low glycemic index diet to diabetics and to patients predisposed to heart disease. Almonds taken with meal appear to decrease glucose surge after meal. Almond also helps in free radical damage as it has antioxidant properties. This was proved in two different researches viz Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Journal of Nutrition and Jones AR, Kendall CW, Metabolism.
Almonds Help Lose Weight
Although rich in fats, almonds can help reduce weight even in obese patients. international Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders published a report that proved that people who consumed almonds daily for six months had significant reduction in BMI, waist circumference and body fats as compared to those who ate low calorie carbohydrate diet.
Diabetes and increased weight both are risk factors for heart disease. Almonds are directly and indirectly beneficial for your heart. Not only almonds, nuts such as cashew, walnut, pecans and chest nuts are great for your heart. Make them a part of your mid meal snack or have it with your meals to make most of its benefits on glycemic index of your food, blood pressure and body fat.
What is so great about almonds?