Almonds and Cholesterol: Are Almonds Really a Heart-Healthy Snack?
It seems that many people are experiencing confusion over almonds and if they should or shouldn’t be included as part of a heart healthy diet. On one hand, almonds are reported to lower bad LDL cholesterol. On the other hand, almonds are a calorie-dense food that’s also high in fat.
Numerous studies, including one by the British Journal of Medicine, has shown convincing evidence that regular almond consumption helps lower bad LDL cholesterol. And not just any LDL, but it’s been shown to reduce the small dense LDL particles that do the most damage to your arterial walls and puts you at a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
So what about the question of almonds being high in fat? Over 60% of the fat content in almonds is monounsaturated fats. (This is the same type of fat that is found in olive oil.) Monounsaturated fat is widely accepted to be a key ingredient to reducing the risk of heart disease and part of a heart-healthy diet.
But the health benefits of almonds doesn’t stop with having healthy natural fat and it’s ability to lower low-density lipoproteins. Almonds pack an antioxidant punch with it’s high levels of Vitamin E. And with over 60 mg of magnesium in a quarter-cup of almonds, that’s just more good news for your heart. You see, magnesium has been shown to help improve blood flow and make things ‘easy’ on your veins and arteries. (Translation: Less stress and work for your heart.)
Concerned about adding too many calories if you start eating almonds? Truth is, almonds have been shown to be beneficial at helping aid weight loss. But if you are just a little too ‘scared’ to add more calories, do this…
Substitute almonds for other foods vs. adding almonds to your existing diet. In fact, it’s been estimated by some researchers based on date from a Nurses Health Study that replacing carbohydrates with healthy nuts like almonds may low the risk of heart disease by as much as 30%. The risk may be lowered as much as 45% if you substitute nuts with saturated fats like those founds in meat and dairy.
Looking for some ways to add almonds to your diet? Try these…
– Add almonds to your salad instead of meat or croutons
– Add to your morning cereals (hot or cold)
– Add to yogurt for a tasty crunch
– Add sliced almonds to vegetable dish (great with green beans)
– Eat with a sandwich as a crunchy substitute for chips
– Two words: Almond butter!
And not surprising, eating almond as a “whole food” is optimal for maximum health benefits. The antioxidant punch mentioned previously is more than doubled when the skins are combined with the meat of the almond, compared to either one separately.