BY DR. ROOPA CHARI, M.D.
Although nuts are known to provide many heart health benefits, many people avoid them for fear of gaining weight. A study published in the journal Obesity shows such fears are false. In fact, people who ate nuts at least twice a week were much less likely to gain weight compared to those who almost never ate nuts.
The 28-month study in Spain, found that participants who ate nuts at least two times per week were 31% less likely to gain weight compared to participants who never or rarely ate nuts. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders that included 65 overweight and obese adults suggests that an almond-enriched low calorie diet (which is high in monounsaturated fats) can help overweight individuals lose weight.
It also helps in maintenance of healthy hair, skin and dental care.
Did you know that eating almonds can also help lower the risk of heart disease? It does this by lowering both blood pressure and cholesterol, increases circulation and has important antioxidants (vitamins and minerals) along with high levels of unsaturated fatty acids for health and wellness. Almonds have the same type of monounsaturated fats as found in olive oil.
Some of the antioxidants in almonds includes vitamin E, copper, magnesium, manganese, copper, biotin, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc and high quality protein.
Nuts and seeds are also rich in fiber which is another reason why almonds are good for cardiovascular health.
Modern research is backing up the claims regarding the health benefits of almonds which have been recognized for centuries. A study published in the journal BMC Medicine concluded that people who regularly eat nuts are at a lower risk of death from both cancer and cardiovascular disease. In addition, almonds appear to decrease after-meal rises in blood sugar and provide the antioxidants necessary to clean up the smaller amounts of free radicals that occur.
Thankfully, the delicious and versatile almond is available throughout the year to make a healthy and tasty addition to most dishes.
Almonds may be eaten on their own, raw or toasted. Almonds are available in many forms including sliced, flaked, slivered, as a flour, butter, oil or as almond milk.
We recommend soaking 1/2-1 ounce of almonds at least twice a week, which is equivalent to 1/8-1/4 cup (or 10-25 almonds) overnight. Soak them for at least 12 hours which makes them easier to digest. The next morning you can rinse and peel them to eat as a snack the next day. You can also eat apples or veggies (i.e. celery or carrots) with a little almond butter in between meals. Crushed almonds are also a wonderful garnish for many dishes. We also blend soaked almonds with a little water to make almond milk which tastes delicious and is a great way to start the day!
However allergy to almonds is common and please avoid them and food products that may contain them if you are allergic.
Sources: • “New Research Shows Almonds Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease,” Aston University, www.aston.com. ac.uk,6/24/14
• Brufau G, Boatella J, Rafecas M. “Nuts: source of energy and macronutrients.” Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S24-8. Accessed November 28th 2013.
• Salas-Salvadó J, Bulló M, Pérez-Heras A, Ros E. “Dietary fibre, nuts and cardiovascular diseases.” Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S46-51. Accessed November 28th 2013.
Sabine Rohrmann and David Faeh. “Should we go nuts about nuts?” BMC Medicine 2013, 11:165. Accessed November 28th 2013.
Jambazian PR, Haddad E, Rajaram S, Tanzman J, Sabaté J. “Almonds in the diet simultaneously improve plasma alpha-tocopherol concentrations and reduce plasma lipids.” J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Mar;105(3):449-54. Accessed November 28th 2013
Bes-Rastrollo M, Sabate J, Gomez-Gracia E, Alonso A, Martinez JA, Martinez-Gonzalez MA. Nut consumption and weight gain in a Mediterranean cohort: The SUN study. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Jan;15(1):107-16. 2007. PMID:17228038.
Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Josse AR, Salvatore S, Brighenti F, Augustin LS, Ellis PR, Vidgen E, Rao AV. Almonds decrease postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr. 2006 Dec;136(12):2987-92. 2006. PMID:17116708.
About Dr. Roopa Chari, M.D.: "Dr. Roopa Chari is a medical doctor in Internal Medicine and her brother Deepak Chari is an Engineer and Certified Biofeedback Specialist at The Chari Center of Health, an advanced integrative medical center in Encinitas, CA. * Sign up for a FREE 15 minute holistic medical consult with Dr. Chari and/or a FREE 30 minute Stress & Anxiety Relief session with Advanced Voice Biofeedback with Deepak Chari here or call (760) 230-2711."