For years nuts were totally out of bounds for anyone trying to lose weight because of the calories they contain, but times have changed. We now know that nuts are superfoods brimming with health benefits and that they’re really filling, too. The latest news has to do with what almonds offer us and comes from researchers in England who have shown not only that crunching on almonds is heart-healthy, but that the positive changes it brings about show up after just a month of a daily almond snack habit! Get this: the study showed that eating just over 1.5 ounces of almonds daily can lower blood pressure, improve blood flow and boost the amount of antioxidants in your blood stream, all of which are a big help for your heart. (As you probably know, antioxidants are protective nutrients that ward off the evil effects of marauding free radicals generated by everything from bad diets to lack of sleep, pollution and lots of other things that aren’t good for us.)
Seriously, after a month of snacking daily on 1.5 ounces (actually 50 grams, which converts to 1.76 ounces just in case you want to be really precise about this) the heart benefits showed up in a group of young men at risk of heart disease because they were overweight or had high blood pressure. At the end of the month, the guys snacking on almonds had improved blood flow, lower blood pressure and higher levels of antioxidants in their blood stream.
Nuts are one of my all-time favorite snacks! They are easy to stash in my purse, lunch box and travel bag which insures I don’t make poor food choices out of convenience. Nuts are a great snack even if you have health issues, like heart disease, as long as you’re not allergic to them. But of course, you should always check with your doctor. Nuts also increase satiety — you will feel full longer after eating them than you would after downing a bag of greasy chips or sugar laden muffin. Snacks that have high fat (healthy fat) and high protein will decrease your cravings and help you get lean faster, as long as you’re eating a low glycemic (low sugar) diet. I recommend eating raw nuts because the oil in nuts becomes oxidized when roasted. On the rare occasion that you eat roasted nuts, try to eat those that have been dry roasted instead of oil roasted. (Oil roasting is similar to deep-frying and adds trans fats. It also eliminates the benefits of eating nuts in the first place.)
When choosing nuts, skip the salt. As you know, the American diet is already much too high in salt. At first, unsalted nuts may seem bland to you, but stick with them — you will soon discover that the nuts’ own flavor is much more interesting when it isn’t overwhelmed by salt.
If you’re sold on almonds but aren’t into weighing your food, the Almond Board of California has some cool graphics to show how to quickly and accurately measure out an ounce of almonds. Take a look. And just between us, if you really must know how many calories there are in an ounce of almonds, it’s 160.
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