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Becca Sirek

Do you know how beneficial almonds are for your health?

February 16th marks the official day to celebrate everyone’s favorite nut, the almond! In honor of National Almond Day, proceed to enjoy a handful of this crunchy superfood as we give a handful of reasons to celebrate their goodness.

  1. Almonds have heart. A high-fat food that’s good for your ticker? According to the FDA, eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, like almonds, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Although it’s not understood why, almond’s high content of healthy, monounsaturated fats lower “bad” LDL-cholesterol (the type of cholesterol known to clog arteries).

  2. Nutty with nutrition. Almonds’ nutrition is no one-trick pony. Almonds are loaded with Vitamin E, serving as an antioxidant powerhouse that protects tissues in the body from damage. Rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium, almonds support bone health, metabolism, and nerve and muscle function. Additionally, almonds are a natural source of phytochemicals, which are believed to prevent cancer and other diseases. Talk about good things coming in a small package!

  3. Promote weight loss. Studies have shown people who ate nuts (like almonds) at least 2 times a week were 31% less likely to gain weight than those who never ate nuts. Because almonds are high in fat, protein, and fiber, they keep the stomach feeling full. Nevertheless, almonds contain a lot fat, and although most of it’s health-promoting fat, it still has a lot of calories. Eat almonds in moderation. It’s as easy as 1-2-3. Control the portion to just 1 serving of about 23 almonds.

  4. Most nutritious when raw or dry-roasted. Select raw or “dry-roasted” varieties of almonds as they provide the most health benefits. Avoid “roasted” varieties, which are heated in trans or other unhealthy oils.

  5. Keep them cool. Almonds are best stored in sealed, cool environments. Store them in the fridge for months, or the freezer for years! Keeping them cool prevents their high fat content from going rancid—a.k.a. developing funky flavors.

  6. More than just a nut. Because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. Snacking on a handful of almonds isn’t the only way to enhance your diet with all their benefits. Go nuts!

Here are some other ways to add almonds to your diet:

  • Almond butter: Similar to its dear friend, peanut butter.
  • Almond flour: Provides a smooth texture ideal for (gluten-free) baking.
  • Almond milk: Creamy, low-calorie milk that’s lactose-free.
  • Almond oil: Great for substituting oil in baking or homemade salad dressings.

Photo by Harsha K R / CC BY

AUTHOR: BECCA SIREK. Becca Sirek is a student studying Nutrition at the University of Minnesota and guest contributor to The Everyday Table blog.