If there is a near-”perfect” natural food for fitness, health, energy boosting, weight loss, weight maintenance, etc. raw almonds could be it. These unique tree nuts are exceptionally healthy, nutrient-dense, and one of the best snacking options you’ll find. They can be used to easily boost your intake of healthy fats, good carbs, fiber, calcium, and protein — all in one delicious, convenient shot.
A recent study even proved that almonds are one of the best snacks for weight loss because eating them controls hunger and cuts food cravings. Researchers from Purdue University found that:
“…consumption of almonds… suppressed hunger and desire to eat sensations especially after being consumed as snacks… These findings suggest that almonds may be a healthy snack option.”
Along with walnuts, almonds are a staple of the very healthy Mediterranean Diet. Despite their phytic acid content, many paleo diet followers consume them on a regular basis (often after a good soaking). Raw almonds are even an ideal protein source for people following an “alkaline” diet.
No matter what type of diet you’re following, almonds can be used to greatly increase nutrient intake. They contain several important compounds many of us don’t get enough of — including vitamin E, vitamin B2, biotin, manganese, copper, magnesium, and phosphorous — making them one of nature’s multi-vitamins.
Many people avoid nuts because they are so high in fat and calories, but that’s a mistake, especially in the case of raw almonds. Several years ago a study at Loma Linda University found that people who added 2 ounces/day of almonds to their diet didn’t gain any significant weight compared to people who did not add the nuts to their diet. Some experts believe that a certain amount of the calories contained in almonds aren’t actually absorbed into the body, possibly because they are so hard.
Here are 4 more good reasons to make this incredible fitness superfood a part of your normal diet:
1. They Can Lower Cholesterol
A significant amount of recent research proves that raw almonds are among the best foods for heart health. In fact, it’s been shown that a healthy diet featuring almonds — such as the “portfolio” diet — can be as effective for reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol as taking statin drugs! Since more than 50% of Americans have high cholesterol this is an important thing to know.
2. Eating Almonds Can Help You Lose Weight in a Healthy Way
Studies published in major medical journals, including the International Journal of Obesity, have found that adding a daily portion of almonds to your diet can have significant weight loss benefits. Eating the high-fat nuts (full of healthy monounsaturated fat) regularly has been shown to be more effective than sticking to a typical low-fat, low-calorie diet. A big reason why: almonds are very satiating. The good fat, quality protein, and high fiber content in almonds help to make you feel less hungry, limit food cravings, and prevent overeating over the course of the day.
3. They Are the Most Nutritionally-Dense Nut
Ounce per ounce, calorie for calorie, raw almonds are the most “nutritionally-dense” nut and one of the most nutrient-rich foods in the world. Even a small handful provides an amazing amount of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Most health and weight loss experts recommend eating nutritionally-dense foods because they provide more “bang for the buck” in terms of overall calorie intake. They also help to displace other high-calorie, low-quality, nutrient-poor foods (e.g. potato chips) in the diet — making almonds the ultimate diet snack food!
4. They Can Be Used in a Huge Variety of Ways
Raw almonds — and even roasted almonds — are among the most versatile health foods. They can be stored in small zip-lock bags and taken almost anywhere, ready to tame your hunger at a moment’s notice. They can be chopped up and added to yogurt, salads, trail mix, cereals, and many other foods. They can even be added to spring water and blended down into a liquid “almond milk” that makes a great dairy substitute for protein shakes, among other things.
I hope by now you understand just why almonds — and raw almonds in particular — are so incredibly healthy and useful when it comes to losing weight and/or getting fit. Give them a try and you just might be turned into an almond addict like us!
More good stuff here: The Healthy Snack that Can Actually Improve Your Health
Photo by Rune T