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Almonds: The Little Nut Wins
Out Over 'Bad' Cholesterol


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 30 percent.

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."

In addition to almonds, other nuts covered by the FDA's claim are hazelnuts, peacans, pistachios, walnuts and peanuts.

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 production.

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 and chips;

<> 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.

  • More articles on Nuts


Reference Source 140
January 30, 2006
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