Food of the Week – Almonds!

To start off the New Year I am going to feature a “food of the week”. We will look at a bit of the history of the food and the health benefits it provides.

This week’s food is  ALMONDS

Almonds are related to stone fruits like peaches, cherries and apricots. They are believed to have originally grown in Asia and North Africa. Almonds have been in the human diet for centuries, and are known to be mentioned in the Book of Genesis.  Now they are grown in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and California.

Almonds are rich in Vitamin E, as well as riboflavin, iron, and magnesium. They are high in fat, but the fat is generally the “good fats” being largely monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated. Research has demonstrated that almonds can lower LDL (the bad) cholesterol, lower heart disease risk and lower blood sugars when replacing carbohydrate. When added to a meal they have been shown to slow the rise in blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) include nuts which add magnesium and potassium to the diet and likely aids the lowering of blood pressure.

Some people avoid nuts because they are high in calories. In fact including nuts in the has been shown to help with appetite management, and reduced risk of weight gain.

One ounce (28 g) of almonds (23) will provide 167 calories, but interestingly only 129 calories are digested. What a Bonus!!

Select unsalted nuts. I prefer the dry roasted. Because nuts contain unsaturated fat, they can become rancid, and rancid fat contributes to the development of “free radicals” associated with damaged cells and aging.  To keep them fresh, store in a sealed container, and you can put them in the fridge or freezer for longer term storage.

Easy ways to include almonds in your diet:

Carry them as a portable snack. Count out your portion and carry them in your bag for an easy satisfying healthful snack. If you have diabetes, they are low in carbohydrates and won’t elevate your blood sugar. If you want a little extra sugar, mixed them with a tablespoon of raisins or dried cranberries.

Add slivered and toasted almonds to salad for crunch and little bit of extra protein. As we know almonds help lower cholesterol!

Add slivered or toasted almonds to your oatmeal or muesli in the morning, to make your breakfast more satisfying. Almonds may even help slow the rise in blood sugar if you have diabetes.

You can coat fish or skinless chicken with coarsely ground almonds and seasonings. Bake until done to get a crunchy coating.

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