I love almonds–the flavor, the texture, the satisfying crunch. Almonds make a great snack. They are convenient, tasty, easy to pack and require virtually no preparation time. They are also highly nutritious. Almonds are a wonderful source of vitamin E, iron and riboflavin (a B vitamin). They also contain other important nutrients like magnesium, folate, calcium and fiber. In recent scientific studies, almonds have shown to lower risk for heart disease by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. They’ve also been shown to be a great snack for diabetics and pre-diabetics.
You are probably aware that almonds, and all nuts in general, tend to be high in calories. But don’t let this discourage you from incorporating them into your meal plan. While almonds are high in calories, these calories come mostly from healthy, monounsaturated fat. This type of fat is very important in helping to lower total and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol that contributes to heart disease). Additionally, monounsaturated fat increases our HDL or good cholesterol, which helps to decrease chances for developing heart disease.
Because almonds are high in calories, practicing moderation is important. At The Biggest Loser Resort, we utilize almonds as a snack, doing so in a moderate way. We offer 12 almonds in a small baggie, which provides approximately 100 calories. This can be a great way to eat almonds in healthy, appropriate portion sizes. So if you buy a big bag of almonds from the store, pre-portion them out into 100 or 200 calorie individual baggies when you get home. This makes it easy to grab a healthy snack if you’re hurrying out the door. Additionally, when purchasing almonds, look for the raw, unsalted varieties. Try to avoid almonds that have been flavored, seasoned or salted, as this can add extra calories, sodium or artificial sweeteners/additives.
Apart from making an excellent snack, almonds can be used to add flavor and crunch to different recipes. Below are some ways in which to incorporate almonds into a healthy meal plan:
- Add slivered or toasted almonds to your morning oatmeal, cereal or yogurt
- Add sliced almonds to chicken or tuna salad
- Add almonds to chicken or vegetable stir-frys
- Add sliced or slivered almonds to salads
- Top whole grain toast, English muffins or sandwich thins with some natural almond butter
Almonds make a wonderful snack or addition to many recipes. So eat almonds in moderation, and enjoy!
Rachel Cope MPH, RD, CD