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"Keep away from small people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

- Mark Twain

The Amazing Almond

Doug Cook, RD

If you’re trying to eat healthfully to maintain a healthy weight or just trying to eat well to be well, you may have been avoiding foods like nuts and seeds which have the reputation of being ‘fattening’. Nuts and seeds can be a part of a healthy diet because they offer a lot of nutritional bang for their buck. A notable nut nutritional powerhouse is the almond. Almonds not only taste good, they’re good for you. They’re cholesterol free, low in saturated fat, and a great source of fiber. They’re also high in monounsaturated fat, which can help lower your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and maintain your “good” cholesterol (HDL). Almonds are the best source of the antioxidant vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopherol and also pack plenty of protein, magnesium, calcium, potassium, copper, iron and zinc. Last but not least, almonds are plentiful in phytochemicals, which have lots of health benefits of their own. Closer inspection of almond nutrition reveals that including them in your diet can do a body good.

Vitamin E: an antioxidant that is needed for healthy blood cells and tissues

Folic acid: along with fruits and vegetables, almonds can make an important contribution to meeting your folic acids requirements. This B vitamin can reduce risk of neural tube defects (birth defects) and is necessary for making red blood cells and may also protect against heart disease and stroke.

Protein: is necessary for healthy muscles, blood cells, hair, skin, antibodies and other body tissues.

Fibre: plays a protective against heart disease and diabetes and aids in the prevention of constipation and diverticulosis.

Iron: one ounce has a good source of the recommended daily requirement of iron. Iron is used in the production of hemoglobin which carries oxygen to all cells in the body.

Zinc: ounce has a good source of the recommended daily requirement of zinc. Zinc is involved in wound healing, sense of taste, protein metabolism, and in reproductive health.

Copper: an important mineral in the oxygen metabolism and helps to keep the bones, blood vessels and nerves healthy.

Magnesium: almonds are an excellent source of magnesium, a mineral involved in building bones, releasing energy from carbohydrate and maintaining calcium and potassium balance in the blood.

Phytochemicals: like all plant foods, almonds contain phytochemicals which have a protective effect against heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases.

The serving size for almonds is 1 ounce (28g) or approximately 23 almonds. Almonds can be added to salads, casseroles, yogurt, muffins and banana bread, stir-fry, oatmeal or right out of the hand as a tasty snack (try them with an apple to give you lots of energy mid afternoon). Try to but raw or toasted almonds without salt and remember that honey roasted or other flavoured almonds will be higher in calories.

ALMOND-CRANBERRY CRUNCH GRANOLA

Makes 6 cups

Ingredients:
1 cup slivered almonds
2 1/2 cups rolled oats*
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup almond or canola oil

Preparation: Combine roasted almonds with oats, cranberries and cinnamon. Blend honey with oil and drizzle over almond-oat mixture, tossing to mix well. Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, loosen with spatula and cool. Serve with low fat milk, soy beverage or with yogurt for a healthy breakfast or snack.

*Old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats may be used.

ALMOND BOARD OF CALIFORNIA

© Doug Cook RD, 2005

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