The month of February gives us so many reasons to celebrate almonds! February 16th was National Almond Day – one of my favorite food holidays – and February is also National Heart Month. To celebrate, let’s take it back to basics.
Almonds are a quick and healthy go-to snack that’s worthy of a spot in your daily nutrition line up! We all crave affordable and delicious foods and it’s an added bonus when they are good for you. Almonds extensive versatility and appealing taste makes for endless craveable snack combinations.
Almonds pack a serious value punch with every handful, providing powerful nutrients and sustained energy to get you through the day. According to a recent California Almonds survey that used Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel and surveyed 4,027 adults, people who regularly consume almonds (weekly+, 1,224 adults) are more likely than their peers to prefer all-natural snacks, plan for healthy snacking and stick with new healthy habits for longer periods. And the sliced almonds – I mean cherry – on top? The survey found that almond eaters are more likely to be happier than their peers!
So, let’s get snacking! Here are my top five benefits of crunching on almonds!
This nutritional powerhouse of a snack has long been linked to heart health. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given a health claim for almonds and other nuts that says “scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Almonds contain good unsaturated fats which help maintain “bad” LDL without impacting “good” HDL cholesterol. High LDL levels have been linked to cardiovascular disease.
There is nothing more frustrating than having a snack and feeling hungry moments later. A recent clinical trial published in the Journal of Nutrients investigated the effects of almonds on hunger between meals, satiety quotient and suppressed unconscious desire. Almonds are a wonderful balance of good fats and satiating plant-based proteins - Just one handful provides 6 grams of protein and 13 grams of ‘good’ monounsaturated fats per ounce!
Eating snacks rich in refined grains may increase variability in your blood sugar. Some recognize that all too familiar high followed by an unwanted low that can leave you feeling grumpy. A small randomized crossover-controlled feeding trial study looked at the role of almonds on management of blood sugars in Chinese patients diagnosed with diabetes. Try pairing almonds with an apple or other piece of fruit for a smart snack.
Almonds are naturally energy-dense! A handful of almonds provides 6 grams of plant-based protein and 4 grams of filling fiber to keep you feeling energized and satisfied! While the composition of almonds hasn’t changed, researchers used a new method of measuring the calories in almonds, which built on traditional methods and allowed them to determine the number of calories actually digested and absorbed from almonds. Additional research is needed to better understand how this technique could potentially affect the calorie count of other foods but, in the meantime, crunch on!
In a recent study, Using NHANES data, researchers investigated everything from diet quality to intake of specific nutrients among almond eaters, compared to those who did not eat almonds. Looking for a tasty way to meet your nutrition goals? Try this date and ginger smoothie that includes both almond milk and almond butter – talk about a delicious double bonus!
Crunch on, fellow almond eaters!
About Maya Feller, R.D.
Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in nutrition for chronic disease prevention. Maya’s believes that by making simple food choices, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing a diet related chronic disease. Half of all Americans suffer from a preventable chronic disease like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cancer, and stroke. To address this difficult and complex epidemic, Maya is dedicated to promoting nutrition education that helps the public to make informed food choices that support health and longevity. She is adjunct faculty at New York University in the Department of Nutrition Food Studies and Public Health. Maya shares her approachable, real food-based solutions to millions of people through regular speaking engagements and as a nutrition expert on Good Morning America, Strahan Sara and Keke and more. She is the author of recently released The Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook.