Health Benefits of Almonds
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Those who get cravings for starchy comfort foods may want to grab some almonds instead. Research published in The Journal of Nutrition shows that eating almonds may play a role in avoiding blood sugar spikes after eating a carbohydrate-rich meal that would raise blood sugar levels. The same study shows that eating almonds may help prevent oxidative stress.
"We found that eating two servings of almonds can have a significant impact in blunting the glycemic and insulin responses of the body when fed with a meal high in carbohydrates," said co-author Dr. Cyril Kendall from the University of Toronto. He added that including almonds in the diet may have implications for helping in the management of blood glucose levels. The health consequences of high blood glucose cause an estimated 3 million deaths worldwide annually, according to research published last year in The Lancet. A 1-ounce handful of almonds is an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, a good source of fiber, and offers protein, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and monounsaturated fats.
Lessening after-meal surges in blood sugar helps protect against diabetes and cardiovascular disease, most likely by lessening the increase in cholesterol-damaging free radicals that accompanies large elevations in blood sugar. This is one reason why low- glycemic index diets result in lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Almonds appear to not only decrease after-meal rises in blood sugar, but also provide antioxidants to mop up the smaller amounts of free radicals that still result. (Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Journal of Nutrition)
Researchers fed 15 healthy subjects 5 meals providing a comparable amount of carbohydrate, fat and protein: 3 test meals (almonds and bread, parboiled rice, and instant mashed potatoes) and 2 bread control meals. Blood samples, taken before each meal and 4 hours afterwards, showed levels of protective antioxidants increased after the almond meal, but decreased after the other meals. And not only did the almond meal increase antioxidant levels, but unlike the other foods, almonds also lowered the rise in blood sugar and insulin seen after eating.
Further research shows that eating almonds along with a high glycemic index food significantly lowers the glycemic index of the meal and lessens the rise in blood sugar after eating. (Jones AR, Kendall CW, Metabolism)
In this study, after an overnight 10-12 hour fast, 9 healthy volunteers were randomly fed 3 test meals and 2 white bread (high glycemic) control meals on separate days. Each meal contained 50 grams of carbohydrate from white bread eaten either alone or in combination with 1, 2, or 3 ounces of almonds. To check subjects' rise in blood sugar, blood samples were taken for glucose analysis immediately after eating, and at 15, 30, 45, 60, 90 and 120 minutes.
Eating almonds reduced the glycemic index (GI) of the meal and subjects' rise in blood sugar in a dose-dependent manner - the more almonds consumed, the lower the meal's GI and the less the rise in subjects' blood sugar after eating.
When one-ounce of almonds was eaten along with white bread, the GI of the meal (105.8) was comparable to eating white bread alone, but when two ounces of almonds were consumed with the white bread, the GI dropped to 63, and when 3 ounces of almonds were eaten, the GI was only 45.2 - less than half the GI of the white bread only meal.
Subjects' blood sugar rose 2.8 mmol/L after eating only white bread. When one ounce of almonds was eaten with the bread, blood sugar rose 2.2 mmol/L. Eating two ounces of almonds with the bread resulted in a rise in blood sugar of 2.0 mmol/L, and eating three ounces of almonds caused blood sugar to rise only 1.6 mmol/L - less than half the rise seen after eating white bread alone.
Almonds contain fatty acids that are shown to improve nail growth. Eating as few as 6 almonds a day can produce visible results.
Don't just enjoy almonds as a between-meal snack. Spread a little almond butter on your toast or down the center of a stalk of celery. Add a handful of lightly roasted almonds to your salad or chop and use as a topping for pasta, steamed or healthy sautéed vegetables. When eating foods with a higher glycemic index, including almonds in the meal can help keep your blood sugar under control.
Here are my favorite Almond recipes (great for anyone on a low carb diet):
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups whole natural almonds
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 225 Degree Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Combine the egg whites and basil in a blender; process on low speed until mixture is pureed. Toss egg white mixture with the almonds. Drain in a colander. Stir together cheese, salt and garlic powder. Add drained almonds and toss to coat. lace almonds in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. Serves 8.
Low-Carb Almond Pancakes: Mix 1 cup almond flour (you can just grind up almonds and use that), 2 eggs, 1/4 cp of water, 2 T oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 T Sweetner (I use Stevia). Mix ingredients together and cook as you would other pancakes. Nutritional Value: Yields six 4-inch pancakes, each pancake has 1 gram effective carbohydrates (as long as you use a no-carb sweetener), 2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and 155 calories.
Non Dairy, No wheat, Almond-flour Bread Recipe (Almond flour)
- 2 cups finely ground almonds (if possible grind until becomes nut butter)
- 3 whipped egg whites (that have peaked)
- 1 tablespoon organic virgin coconut oil (melted)
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Mix all ingredients, except egg whites, in food processor. Remove, put into bowl.
- Add whipped egg whites.
- Bake in bread pan at 350oF (180oC) until light brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean when you test it by inserting it in the centre of the loaf.
- Notes: You can add a little black pepper, garlic powder and mixed herbs. Alternatively add 2 cloves garlic, a half courgette and chop all together in a food processor and then add whipped eggs and mix by hand. Because it is a wetter mixture it is suggested that it is baked in a pie plate so that it cooks a little better inside. If you plan to use for stuffing a chicken or turkey, you can take out the courgette and add fresh sage, rosemary and thyme (or any other flavors you would like).
Orange & Almond Cake:
- 2 large navel oranges
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 tbl orange liqueur (or orange water)
- Stevia to sweeten
- 300 grams almond meal
- 1tsp baking powder
- Thickened cream to serve
- Grease and lightly flour a cake tin. Place the whole oranges in a medium saucepan, cover with water and boil for 2 hours, topping up with more water as it evaporates. Remove the oranges. Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the oranges into quarters and place in a food processor. Blend until smooth, then cool thoroughly. Place the egg yolks, orange liqueur (or orange water) and Stevia in a large bowl and beat until smooth, then stir in the orange puree and mix well. Whisk the egg whites in a dry bowl until firm peaks form. Add the almonds and baking powder in the orange mixture, stir together well, then carefully fold in the egg whites. Gently pour into the cake tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour. Cool cake in tin, then transfer to a serving plate. Serve with cream.
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