Packed with vitamins and minerals, high in fat-free protein, and deliciously crunchy too—what’s not to love about almonds? These oval-shaped nuts have been around for thousands of years—they were even mentioned in the Bible—and in Roman times they were given as a wedding gift for fertility. Today, many people love their rich taste, but did you know they also have some fabulous health benefits? At only 160 calories per 100g portion, here are ten good reasons to enjoy almonds.
1. May lower cholesterol
A portion of almonds contain 12g of linoleic acid and 132mg of plant sterols, as well as plenty of unsaturated fats. All of these attributes help to keep our cholesterol level low. Linoleic acid is believed to work by making fat deposits melt away more easily, and we need to get it from our diet because our body doesn’t produce its own.
2. Could help prevent heart disease
A Mediterranean diet is low in saturated fats and red meat, but rich in plant-based foods. It has long been recognized that this approach is a recipe for keeping our hearts healthy. However, a recent study indicated that adding a daily portion of nuts to this diet could decrease the likelihood of heart disease by up to 30%.
3. Boost bone health
We need calcium in our diet to make our bones strong, and magnesium to help process that calcium. A single portion of almonds gives us around 120mg of calcium and a similar amount of magnesium, giving our bones a double health boost.
4. Fight anemia
Lack of iron in the diet can cause us to develop anemia. When we have anemia, our red blood cells—which carry oxygen around the body—don’t function properly. This makes us pale, lethargic and weak, and prone to heart problems. Thankfully, almonds contain iron and folate—both of which are important to our blood health.
5. Maintain digestive health
A low-fiber diet can cause all kinds of digestive health issues, including constipation and IBS, so following a high fiber diet is crucial to keeping our system functioning properly. The 60g of fiber in each portion of almonds goes a long way towards our daily goal, and they’re also free from gluten.
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6. Good for our brain health
It’s hard to count the number of fantastic nutrients that ensure almonds benefit our brains—magnesium, niacin, folate, and more. Riboflavin and L-carnitine have both been shown to increase brain activity, which builds brand new neural pathways for learning. Almonds may also help counteract the degenerative nature of Alzheimer’s.
7. Almonds have anti-inflammatory properties
Linoleic acid in almonds is one of the fatty acids that helps to reduce inflammation in the body. Sufferers of auto-inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or lupus may find adding almonds to their daily diet reduces inflammation and relieve symptoms.
8. Enhance immune system
In a similar way, reducing inflammation can also help our immune system to function more efficiently. This will help us ward off infections such as colds and flus, and assist us in recovering more quickly if we do get sick.
9. Almonds help manage diabetes
Balancing the body’s production of insulin in order to manage blood sugar levels is a daily fight for those with diabetes. Low-glycemic foods—which break down gradually to avoid a sudden sugar spike—are an essential ingredient in the diabetic’s diet. Since almonds help regulate the absorption of sugar, they are great for managing diabetes.
10. Almonds combat tiredness and fatigue
Finally, almonds contain many essential nutrients, including copper, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus—all of which help keep our energy levels up. Nibbling on a portion of almonds can counteract tiredness and fatigue.
How to enjoy almonds
If crunching on whole almonds doesn’t appeal to you, then you can enjoy them chopped and sprinkled on cookies, scattered in trail mixes or on cereals, or toasted and flaked as a textured topper for a hot drink. Try ground almonds for a moist cake, or sip on a delicious glass of almond milk. Any way you choose, almonds are a must for a little healthy pampering.