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. However, they must be consumed in their raw, organic form to have any nutritional value.
California is the only U.S. state that commercially produces almonds and actually produces 80% of the world's supply. All almonds produced in California, destined for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are required (mandatory) to be pasteurized. Organic almonds are now required to be pasteurized, even though there has been absolutely noincident of salmonella poisoning among organic almonds. The pasteurized almonds will not be required to be labeled as "pasteurized" and may only be labeled "raw", effectively misleading consumers!
Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishesvitamin content, denatures the molecular structure, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children,osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.
Roasted almonds also do not have the same medicinal properties that raw almonds do and therefore should be avoided.
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 from damage.
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."
Further research demonstrates that almonds contribute to accelerated fat metabolism and can reduce the incidence of overweight and obesity by influencing healthy blood glucose control and insulin response. Just a handful of almonds every day can improve your health profile and lower the risk of serious disease.
Almonds are nutritionally dense -- a quality emphasized in the government's latest Dietary Guidelines. Almonds are the most nutritionally dense nut, whether compared calorie per calorie or ounce per ounce. The recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 encourage Americans to choose nutritionally dense foods -- that is, to get the most nutrition possible out of the calories you eat. A one-ounce, 164-calorie serving of almonds, or about a handful, is an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, and a good source of fiber. It also offers heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, protein, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and iron.
In fact, according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition last fall, individuals who added almonds as a snack to their regular diet increased their overall intake of several important nutrients. The study's researchers, from Loma Linda University in California, concluded that incorporating almonds into a diet may promote the natural displacement of less nutrient-dense foods, making the overall nutritional quality of the diet better.
Almonds Help to Stabilize Blood Sugar Spikes
Post meal blood sugar spikes are known to contribute to the development of metabolic disorders including diabetes and initiate the chain of events that lead to cardiovascular disease. Any intervention that can help to minimize the post meal rush of blood sugar will reduce the risk from these conditions.
The results of a study conducted at the Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition shows how almond consumption can blunt the effect of high blood sugar, prevent insulin resistance and lower levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol. The study involved 65 prediabetic adults that were broken into two groups to determine the effect of almond consumption. The control group ate a healthy diet low in carbohydrates for 16 weeks and excluded all nuts. The intervention group consumed the same diet but included 20% of total calories from almonds.
Blood analysis showed that the almond group had significantly better insulin levels and improved markers for insulin resistance and beta-cell function. The study authors concluded that the high fiber content and unsaturated fats in almonds “help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Almonds in the Battle Against Obesity
Almonds are high in protein, fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats that are all known to influence how our body stores and metabolizes fat for energy. Almonds are rich in complex carbohydrates that require significant energy to be broken down by our body.
The International Journal of Obesity published the results of a study that shows almonds are “a feasible option for consideration and have a potential role in the public health implications of obesity.” The study concluded that almonds provide a sensation of satiety and are beneficial for people trying to lose weight.
Almonds are a perfectly balanced food source that can benefit health. This powerful seed has a balanced ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and fats that are in perfect alignment with human macronutrient requirements.
Nutritional studies confirm that almonds regulate blood sugar and prevent insulin resistance that lowers the risk from diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, almonds help regulate fat metabolism and can be used as a tool to assist weight loss. Include a handful of almonds every day to reap the many health benefits.