Your favorite afternoon snack just got more appetizing. As if we needed another reason to love almonds – one of the healthiest, highest protein nuts you’ll find – a 2022 study in the UK recently found that almonds also contain a unique fatty acid linked to better gut health. Read on to learn more about this groundbreaking study, as well as all the other amazing health benefits almonds have to offer.
Latest: Eating Almonds Is Linked to Gut Health
A research group from King’s College London published a small study that found that eating a handful of almonds every day for just four weeks increased the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, in participants. This fatty acid has been linked to improving the health of the gut microbiome, as it is a primary energy source for colon cells. When these cells are functioning at their peak, it creates an ideal environment for healthy gut microbes to thrive.
The gut microbiome is a group of over a trillion microorganisms that work together to support many different aspects of our health, including gut and digestion, heart health, skin health, mental health and many others. A colorful, plant-rich, and overall diverse diet, including almonds, is key to keeping your microbiome balanced and functioning.
More Health Benefits of Almonds
Beyond this latest discovery, almonds have long been known as a nutrient-dense superfood and an important part of the diet for optimal health and nutrition.
“No single nutrient makes nuts in general, and almonds in particular, ‘healthy’. Rather, it’s about the overall nutrient profile: providing lots of the ‘good’ nutrients we need and don’t reliably get enough of, and minimal ‘bad’ nutrients we tend to consume in excess” , says David Katz, MD, MPH, founding director of the Center for Prevention Research at Yale University’s Griffin Hospital, founder and CEO of Plan IDfounder and president of True health initiativeand co-author of how to eat.
Nuts in general are a great source of vegan protein, and almonds are particularly rich in essential macronutrients. One serving of almonds (1 ounce or about a quarter cup), provides 6 grams of protein
Although we put gut health on the brain, one of the nutrients creating this impressive nutrient profile is fiber. Fiber helps maintain regularity and healthy digestion while acting as a prebiotic or food for our gut bacteria to improve the diversity of microorganisms in the biome. The fiber present in almonds also helps keep us full longer while regulating blood sugar levels after eating.
“Almonds are a rich source of healthy unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated fats (similar to olives and olive oil), while still being quite low in saturated fat,” says Dr. Katz. This, combined with the protein content of almonds, also results in better satiety. Additionally, these types of fats are associated with improved cholesterol levels and reduced inflammation in the body. A study conducted on almonds, in particular, found that consumption was also inversely related to the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In micronutrients and plant compounds, almonds also deliver seriously, here’s just a taste of some they offer:
Vitamin E, one of the fat-soluble vitamins that is a powerful antioxidant, helps eradicate free radicals in the body. It also supports the health of our vision, reproductive systems, and skin.
Almonds are also packed with manganese, an inconspicuous trace mineral essential for the formation of connective tissue, bones, blood components and certain hormones. It is also important for metabolism, blood sugar regulation and brain function.
Although typically used to help with sleep or digestive issues, magnesium plays a crucial role in energy production as well as muscle and nerve function. Consumption of this mineral has even been linked to reductions in blood pressure.
This essential mineral is vital for bodily processes such as metabolism, iron absorption, immune system health, red blood cell creation, and collagen formation to build healthy bones and tissues. Studies have shown that it may also protect against or help improve symptoms of cardiovascular disease.
Almonds are a good vegan source of calcium (an essential mineral found in many dairy products like milk and cheese) and can help maintain strong bones, muscles and nerves.
Like calcium, phosphorus also contributes to healthy bones and teeth while helping the proper growth and repair of cells in the body.
Phytochemicals and Antioxidants
Almonds are also full of healthy and powerful plant compounds. “[They’re] a good source of antioxidants and plant sterols that have a lipid-lowering effect,” says Dr. Katz. They are also packed with flavonols, another group of plant compounds, especially quercetin and kaempferol, both of which are very effective at reducing inflammation in the body and boosting the immune system.
The healthiest ways to eat more almonds
Now that we know how healthy almonds are for us, there are a few things to keep in mind. “The only potential downside, like most nuts, is that they’re high in calories,” says Dr. Katz. That said, he and his team have conducted studies showing how filling almonds are, naturally helping us avoid overeating while still providing all those great nutrients.
Another note: “Be careful what is done to them,” adds Dr. Katz. « Honey Roasted Almonds [for example] can be fried in oil, changing the fatty acid profile; dipped in honey, adding a lot of sugar; and salty, adding a lot of sodium. It’s not the same food anymore. Roasted and salted almonds, while delicious, can be cooked with added oils and contain a fair amount of added sodium. An easy way to get to grips with exactly what you’re buying is to simply take a look at the nutrition/ingredient label. Ideally, look for almonds in their “native state,” as Dr. Katz puts it, or as close to their raw form as possible. This means looking for unsalted, raw almonds or dry-roasted almonds.
Some fantastic ways to add them to your meals and snacks include chopping them up and tossing them into yogurt with fresh fruit; sprinkle sliced or slivered almonds on salads for irresistible crunch and a pinch of protein; mix them with green beans, fresh lemon and garlic; or simply enjoy a handful straight from the container as a satisfying afternoon snack.
Easy Almond Recipes to Repeat
Baked oatmeal with cranberries and almonds
Almond-Crusted Chicken with Arugula Salad
Quick noodles with hazelnuts and almond butter
Spicy salad garnish with almonds and seeds
Pomegranate and almond toast
Nutty Superfood Breakfast Bites
The latest findings on almonds combined with the nutritional information we already know about this great nut makes storage even easier the next time you’re in the nut aisle. Nice snack !
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