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Almonds, which are often found in desserts and breakfast cereals, make delicious snacks on their own. They are a nutrient powerhouse, packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein! In addition, they have a high unsaturated fat content and a low saturated fat content, and they are cholesterol free. Daily consumption of almonds may provide major health benefits and can reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

According to the US FDA, “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

One scientific study investigated the effect of almond consumption on heart disease risk factors. The effects of whole almonds were compared with the effects of low saturated fat whole wheat muffins, the control group. These foods were included in the diets of hyperlipidemic subjects (those having excessive amounts of fat or fatty substances in their blood). It was found that the hyperlipidemic subjects who ate almonds experienced significantly reduced heart disease risk factors. The scientists concluded that it was most likely due to the protein, fiber, and unsaturated fat from the almonds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “86 million adults–more than one in three US adults–have prediabetes, meaning their blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15-30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.”

Weight loss is achieved through exercise and a change in diet. It has been shown that having an almond-enriched diet may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. This study looked at the effects of an almond-enriched diet on risk factors for type 2 diabetes in prediabetic adults. After 16 weeks, the subjects who were on the almond-enriched diet showed improved insulin sensitivity (which helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels) and decreased levels of LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol. Those prediabetic adults had lowered their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Unless you are allergic to almonds, eating one serving (about one ounce) of nutrient-rich almonds a day can contribute to a healthier life. Enjoy almonds by eating them on their own, raw or toasted, or as an added ingredient to a dish.

Feature Image Source: I_Nneska

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