Adding a handful of almonds to your daily menu may well be the easiest way to give yourself an instant health boost. Almonds have already been found to reduce LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, and research shows that they may play a role in mediating blood sugar spikes after meals. Almonds are also rich in protein, calcium, vitamin E, arginine (an amino acid that aids blood flow), fiber, iron, and zinc. They are very low in carbohydrates and high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Almond skin contains a host of antioxidant compounds.
A 2011 study published in Metabolism provides further evidence that almonds may help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels. The study showed that people who ate one ounce of almonds before a high carb meal decreased their postprandial blood sugar levels by about 30 percent, compared to people who didn't include almonds with their meal. Part of the study also focused on the effect of regular almond intake in people with type 2 diabetes. Participants who ate one ounce of almonds five days a week for 12 weeks decreased their A1C score by 4 percent and reduced their body mass index by 4 percent.
If you are not the type to snack on raw or roasted almonds, don't despair. Slivered, chopped, and toasted almonds can be added to just about anything – green salads; chicken, tuna, or fruit salad; cold or hot cereal; granola; yogurt; steamed vegetables; stir fry dishes; baked or broiled fish; and sugar-free desserts. Almond meal can be added to meat loaf, meatballs, burgers, and crab or salmon cakes, and can also be substituted in part for flour in baking.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
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