Almonds: Superfood from Nature

almondsAlmonds, once avoided due to their high fat content, have recently emerged in the spotlight as a “superfood!” Due to their health properties, they have recently come back in vogue with a vengeance and are a favorite snack of starlets and chefs alike. Now almonds are one of the most popular nuts on the market, and easy to include in your diet as long as you watch the portion size.

Almonds are touted as the most diet-friendly nut because they are high in protein, heart-friendly due to high levels of MUFAs and very filling. While they are high in fat, they are one of the few foods that are high in the “healthy” fat or more scientifically, monounsaturated fat.

So, like olive oil and avocados, almonds have been proven to help stave off heart disease and diabetes and to help lower bad cholesterol. They are also high in vitamin E and magnesium, which improves blood flow and calms arteries, crucial for healthy hearts. Keep the skin on to get double the amount of antioxidants compared to the blanched variety.

In addition to an apple a day, try adding a handful of almonds a day, but don’t go nuts. Stick to around 12 almonds – that’s around 100 calories and about 10 grams of fat, to keep your overall health and your waistline in check! Here are 10 ways to incorporate almonds into your daily routine:

  • Sliced almonds in salads: toss in any green salad, chicken salad, rice salad or fruit salad.
  • Make almond butter: simply grind almonds in a food processor with a little bit of salt (optional) until smooth. You can also find almond butter in most supermarkets. Use in place of peanut butter – spread on whole wheat toast or on celery or enjoy with apple wedges, but keep your eye on the portion size, a tablespoon will do.
  • Chopped almonds in yogurt: adds a lovely & healthy crunch in lieu of granola
  • Chopped almonds in baked goods: many of your favorite recipes call for nuts, try substituting almonds in place of the peanuts or walnuts- you will be pleasantly surprised!
  • Almonds as a healthy snack – my favorite way to enjoy almonds is to simply grab a handful! Nowadays you can even find convenient 100 calorie packets of almonds, which you can just grab and go! They even have coco-dusted almonds, which are very low in sugar and are fantastic! A definite dieter’s delight!
  • Almond crusted fish/chicken: craving something crunchy or fried? No need for breadcrumbs or a deep fryer! See below for some recipe ideas.
  • In place of pine nuts in pesto: use almonds in place of pignoles next time you make your favorite pesto.
  • Homemade granola: so many store-bought granolas are loaded with sugar. If you make your own, then you control what goes in it – like using almonds in place of peanuts!
  • Dark chocolate dipped strawberries with sliced almonds: three great, heart-healthy foods, in one decadent treat.
  • As a topping for pasta: try tossing with your favorite pasta for added flavor and texture.
  • As a topping for frozen yogurt or sorbet: a great way to get your kids to dig the nuts.

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