During our recent travels through North Africa, I couldn’t help but marvel at the plush landscape as well as perfect terrain for growing some of the most nutritious foods on this planet. With the Atlas Mountains in the background, we were amazed by the extensive number of almond trees passing in front of our eyes. In fact, Morocco ranks 5th among the world’s top producers of almonds after the United States, Spain, Italy and Iran. Suffice it to say that almonds are among the sweetest and heart healthiest nuts on the planet… here are 5 reasons why we should take advantage of them.
- Lowers blood glucose levels: Just 12 almonds (1/2 handful or 1/2 ounce) significantly reduces blood sugar levels.
- Suppresses appetite. Eating a handful of almonds daily increases satiety (or a sense of fullness) that can effectively reduce the urge the overeat. Try 1/2 handful twice daily when hunger pangs set in such as between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner in order to limit overeating during these meals.
- Reduces cholesterol and body fat: Again, try 1 handful of almonds a day and you may find up to 5-10% lowering of LDL (bad cholesterol), triglycerides (blood fats) and reduction of body fat.
- May blunt memory decline: As we age our memory declines. Antioxidants in almonds may help to slow the decline as revealed in animal studies.
- Improves Mood: Almonds contain selenium, magnesium and zinc, elements that boost neurotransmitter chemicals, serotonin and dopamine to improve mood.
- BOTTOM LINE: Up to 1 handful of almonds each day to reap the benefits!
- Dr Michael Miller is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore where he takes care of patients, conducts original research and teaches medical students. His latest book is “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” with all book proceeds donated to the American Heart Association.