By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
Almonds are one of the most popular nuts and not without good reason: almonds are portable and tasty, and they’re filled with fibre, healthy fats, and plant-based protein, whether they’re stirred into a bowl of porridge or eaten by the handful as a snack.
What are the health benefits to be obtained from consuming almonds?
The health benefits from consuming only one nutritious and delicious handful of almonds per day are numerous because almonds are the most nutrient dense of all the nuts.
Almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats, packed full of vitamin E and are cholesterol-free, so incorporating them into your everyday diet will help improve overall health and reduce your risk of heart disease. Almonds come in two varieties: sweet and bitter. The sweet variety is consumed, while the bitter variety is used to produce almond oil or amaretto.
Almonds provide us with many health benefits including:
Cholesterol lowering effects- has been shown to reduce elevated LDL cholesterol levels when consumed as part of a healthy diet, which may help reduce atherosclerosis.
Reducing risk of heart disease- contains monounsaturated fats similar to those in olive oil and also vitamin E important in maintaining a healthy heart.
Help to stabilise blood sugar levels (important when trying to conceive) – in trials almonds appear to decrease blood sugar levels after a meal has been consumed and provide antioxidants to remove free radicals.
Provide help with energy production
May help reduce the risk of gallstones
And when it comes to fertility……
It really is time to go nutty for almonds as they are a rich source of vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant). Vitamin E is thought to improve sperm quality and motility in men (a study showed that eating 7 almonds a day improved sperm quality). It is also an important regulator of sex hormones in both men and women. In women, vitamin E may help regulate the production of cervical mucus, which is important for conception, due to its ability to keep sperm alive for several days. Almonds also help improve insulin resistance (important for those with PCOS), a condition where body becomes less effective at lowering blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance can reduce fertility in women, especially when combined with abdominal weight gain.
Chop up and sprinkle in salads
As almond butter on toast
Eat with celery
Chop and enjoy on pasta and use in cakes
Add to yoghurt
As a snack
Use almond milk in smoothies and porridge
Did you know?…..Almonds were originally from Asia and the Mediterranean the almond nut that we eat is actually the seed of the almond fruit, which is related to cherries, plums and peaches.
Almonds contain quite high levels of oxalates- so if you have or think you have kidney/gallstone issues it may be wise to avoid almonds.
Also those who have allergies to tree nuts avoid too.
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