Almonds Have Heart
Almonds heart-smart benefits are good news for just about everyone; especially since cardiovascular disease holds the spot as the leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S.
- California Almonds are cholesterol-free, have only 1 gram of saturated fat, and have 13 grams of unsaturated fat per one ounce serving.
- But there’s more, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “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.” U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that the majority of your fat intake be unsaturated. One serving of almonds (28 grams, or about 23 almonds) has 13 grams of unsaturated fat and only 1 gram of saturated fat.
- You can look forward to having a little help in the grocery aisles because the American Heart Association® has certified whole almonds to display the sought-after Heart-Check mark. Now it’s easy for everyone out there to identify almonds as a heart-smart option.ii
i The Heart and Stroke Foundation's™ dietitians have reviewed this product and it meets nutrient criteria developed by Health Check™ based on recommendations in Canada's Food Guide. A fee is paid to help run this voluntary, not-for-profit program. Healthcheck.org
ii All certified nuts, including salted varieties, must meet the American Heart Association’s® nutritional requirements which include a limit of 140mg or less of sodium per label serving size. Please note that the Heart-Check Food Certification does not apply to hyperlinks, recipes, or research unless expressly stated. For more information, see the American Heart Association’s® nutrition guidelines at heartcheckmark.org/guidelines. American Heart Association® and the Heart-Check Mark are registered trademarks of the American Heart Association®.
Start Your Engines
As one of the three main macronutrients—fat and carbohydrates round out the trifecta—protein is key in repairing and maintaining your body, helping you power through that meeting marathon at work (or that actual marathon, if that’s more your thing). Almonds also have lots of other revitalizing, satisfying nutrients to keep you going strong.
- A handful of almonds provide 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of filling fiber and 13 grams of “good” monounsaturated fat to keep you feeling energized and satisfied.
- If you like to mix things up, other almond forms contain protein in every ounce, too—such as almond butter (6g per ounce serving) and almond flour (6g per ¼ cup serving).
- It’s pretty common knowledge that nuts are a good source of plant-based protein, but not all nuts are created equal. When compared ounce for ounce, almonds are the tree nut highest in protein.
The Skinny on Fat
As much as we hate to face it, there is no quick fix for weight loss. Nope, no magic pill or 1-minute workout. In the real world, the not-so-secret secret to managing your waistline is an active lifestyle and a calorie-conscious diet of nutritious foods that can help stave off hunger and satisfy your cravings. Almonds happen to be one such food.
- Almonds provide 4 grams of filling fiber, "good" monounsaturated fats, and 6 grams of protein to keep you feeling energized and satisfied.1
- Almonds are considered a good fit with many popular weight-loss plans because they provide stellar satiety, plentiful nutrients per calorie, and great, go-with-every-food flavor and crunch.
- A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a one-ounce serving of almonds (about 23 nuts) has just 129 calories as opposed to the previous count of 160. That's a 20% decrease.
Even better, almonds are also super simple to integrate into your diet. Just grab them as a snack or make them part of a meal, and you could see the scales tip in your favor.
1. Good news about good fat: U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that the majority of your fat intake be unsaturated. One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat.
Just one crunchy handful of almonds is a satisfying way to load up on important vitamins and minerals that your body needs to dominate every hour. Allow us to elaborate…
- Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium and manganese, and a good source of fiber, copper, phosphorous and riboflavin.
- A one-ounce serving has 13 grams of “good” unsaturated fats, just 1 gram of saturated fat and is always cholesterol free.1
- When compared ounce for ounce, almonds are the tree nut highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin.
Cue the Calcium
Almonds’ nutrition is no one-trick pony. In fact, every crunch carries lots of important vitamins and minerals, including one that most people don’t even think of in nuts: calcium. Usually associated with dairy and dark leafy greens, calcium works with vitamin D to build your bones and keep your body’s systems running at peak performance.
- When compared ounce for ounce, almonds are the nut highest in calcium, boasting 75mg per ounce.
Getting More Out of Gluten-Free
Almonds are endlessly versatile and always enjoyable, so for those living with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, they’re the pantry essential you don’t want to live without.
Ten Tips to Eating Gluten-Free with Almonds
- Add creamy perfection to your morning cup o’ joe or your favorite gluten-free cereal with a splash of almond milk.
- Take back baked goods by using almond flour as a substitute for regular flour.
- Get the gluten-free festivities pumping by serving whole, natural almonds as a crowd-pleasing, gluten-free party snack.
- Give your side dish an extra kick of crunch by sprinkling sliced or slivered almonds on top. Flavored varieties can spice up or sweeten the deal.
- Use almond flour or crushed almonds instead of breadcrumbs as a coating on fish or poultry. Is it dinnertime yet?
- Snack on a handful of whole almonds anywhere anytime. No gluten equals no worries.
- Give traditional crackers a run for their money and crunch into almond crackers (homemade or store-bought) as a snack. Your cheese platter won’t mind them one bit either.
- Use almond butter to thicken up smoothies or slather it on gluten-free bread at lunch. You can lick your fingers too—just make sure no one’s looking.
- Swap crispy croutons with crunchy almonds for a more satisfying (and likely, more sensational) salad.
- Give chocolate desserts an added crunch without any added gluten by making almonds part of the mix. Health bonus: almonds and dark chocolate are an antioxidant match made in heaven.
Gluten-Free, Flavor-Full Recipes
To all the gluten-free folks out there, there’s just one thing you need to know: we’ve got you covered. With the help of Elana Amsterdam, author of The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook, and Chef John Csukor, we developed exclusive recipes, just for you! Not to mention we also have more than 100 additional options in our growing recipe center.
Gluten Freedom with Almond Flour
Start those ovens, everyone (and we do mean everyone) because almond flour has the power to meet all your gluten-free baking needs while also adding top-shelf nutrition and flavor to all your favorite recipes.
Look to stock your stash of this pantry must-have wherever gluten-free products are sold. Note: if you can’t find it, it may be in the refrigerator or freezer section or stores, or you can even make your own by grinding whole almonds in a food processor.
Almond Flour Fast Facts
- Unlike many GF flours that contain several different inclusions, almond flour has just one ingredient (surprise, it’s almonds) with a slightly sweet, buttery taste ideal for sweet or savory recipes.
- Far from being gritty or dry, almond flour has a smooth texture that’s picture-perfect for baking. Almond meal, on the other hand, has a slightly coarser texture and is made from whole almonds ground with the skin on. Most baking recipes call for almond flour, so keep tabs on that if you’re substituting.
- A one cup serving of almond flour bakes protein (23g), fiber (12g), antioxidants and calcium (235mg) into every creation. Click here for the full nutrition lowdown.
Taking On Diabetes
More and more research is showing that adding almonds to a diabetes-friendly diet may actually help improve certain risk factors for the disease.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition demonstrated that consuming an American Diabetes Association-recommended diet where 20% of total calorie intake came from almonds helped improve insulin sensitivity in individuals with prediabetes. Insulin sensitivity is a measure of how well your body processes glucose. The study results also indicated that adding almonds to this diet can also help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Nutrients in almonds, such as fiber and unsaturated fat have been shown to help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood glucose levels.*
Study Limitations: The single fasting insulin sample and sample size are limitations in this study, as well as possible errors in patient self-reporting of dietary intakes and differences in carbohydrate intakes between the two groups.
Breakfast and Glucose Levels
According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism, consuming a breakfast containing almonds, which is a low glycemic index food, can aid in stabilizing blood glucose levels for the better part of the day. This is good news if you are looking for a food to keep you going until the clock strikes lunch. In addition, study participants (14 adults with impaired glucose tolerance, average age of 39 years) felt fuller for a longer period of time.**
Study Limitations: Although the test meals were matched for available carbohydrate content, they were not matched on energy value or macronutrient composition. Additional research is needed to assess the long-term effects of including almonds in the breakfast meal on blood glucose concentrations.
Heart Disease and Diabetes
People who have diabetes often are at higher risk for heart disease. Results from a study published in Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental suggests that incorporating almonds into the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Step II Diet can improve insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes. The results also suggested that adding almonds to the NCEP step II diet can help maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels in these patients. ***
Study Limitations: Limitations of this study include the sample size, length of the study, lack of an oral glucose tolerance test, and lack of hemoglobin A1c readings. The sample size for this study is considered small for a feeding study, so the results may not be extrapolated to apply to a larger population. Though the study showed that almond consumption lowered fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, in order to gauge the effect on insulin actions, an oral glucose tolerance test is needed, and none was administered. Lastly, because hemoglobin A1c is a measure of blood glucose readings over a 2-3 month period, it was not assessed in this study, as the study interventions only lasted for 4 weeks at a time.
* Wien M, et al. Almond consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in adults with prediabetes. J Am Coll Nutr 2010;29(3):189-97.
**Mori AM, Considine RV, Mattes RD. Acute and second-meal effects of almond form in impaired glucose tolerant adults: a randomized crossover trial. Nutr Metab 2011;8(1):6 doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-8-6.
*** Li SC, Liu YH, Liu JF, Chang WH, Chen CM, Chen CY. Almond consumption improved glycemic control and lipid profiles in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism 2011;60:474-479