Your Question: I overheard a coach at my gym talking about good snack foods and that almonds were supposedly at the top of that list. Why would I want to include almonds, other than they contain good fats?
Larry’s Response: A 2005 study from the University of Toronto suggests that eating a healthy diet, including almonds, reduces inflammation by reducing levels of C-reactive protein, a key marker of inflammation.
Is this a good thing? Inflammation, like stress, is bad for your heart. It increases the risk for developing clogged arteries and it is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Any dietary change that can reduce inflammation can certainly be thought of as heart-healthy.
In the study mentioned above, 34 people followed a dietary plan which included almonds. Those who followed the plan saw a 24% reduction in C-reactive protein – which is better than you could achieve by taking a first line statin drug – without the side effects and added risks associated with the pills.
In addition to general heart health, almonds have a nutrient profile that can be useful to athletes recovering from strenuous workouts. A single ounce (total 165 Calories) of almonds delivers six grams of muscle-building protein and carbohydrates, as well as 15 grams (135 Calories) of good fat – plus potassium, calcium, phosphorous and iron.
The antioxidant action of vitamin E can help clean up the free radical damage of training stress. Almond skins contain more than 20 flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants capable of repairing cellular damage.
Of prime importance to nerve health is choline, a nutrient found in especially high levels in almonds. It is a precursor to acetylcholine, which is the main neurotransmitter associated with voluntary control of muscle.
Almonds are healthy for most people and they provide the special nutrition needed for muscle recovery. The nutrients in almonds can also help replenish the nervous system after demanding physical exercise.
Take my advice and eat some almonds every day (my choice is raw, uncooked and unsalted).
For additional information about this healthy nut go right to the source, the Almond Board of California; www.almonds.com is a virtual encyclopedia of almond facts.