Do Calories in Almonds Outweigh their Health Benefits?

Almonds: A High Fat Food that is good for your Health?

The calories in almonds are 500 to a half cup. How can this little nut be good for you?

Although nuts are known to provide a variety of cardio-protective benefits, many avoid them for fear of weight gain. However, almonds (and nuts in general) have been found to lower the risk of weight gain!

Almonds contain high amounts of heart healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E and are well known to reduce LDL cholesterol level, as well as to reduce the risk for heart disease. LDL cholesterol has been linked to heart disease and atherosclerosis.

Additionally, a quarter cup of almonds also contains 99 mg of magnesium and 257 mg of potassium. Magnesium improves the flow of blood, nutrients and oxygen throughout the body and potassium is essential in maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Almonds are also known to protect against Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease by reducing spikes in blood sugar levels after meals. To lower your risk of heart disease, have a handful of almonds at least four times a week.

With these health-essential ingredients the health benefits far outweigh the calories in almonds.

All about Almonds

The Almond (Prunus dulcis, syn. Prunus amygdalus Batsch., Amygdalus communis L., Amygdalus dulcis Mill.) is a species of tree of the genus Prunus, belonging to the subfamily Prunoideae of the family Rosaceae and native to the Middle East. Within Prunus, it is classified in the subgenus Amygdalus, distinguished from the other subgenera by the corrugated seed shell.

Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree. Although popularly referred to as a nut, the almond seed or fruit is botanically not a true nut, but the seed of a drupe (a botanic name for a type of fruit).

Enjoy your Almonds in many Ways!

Almonds are not just a between-meal snack

  • Spread some almond butter on your toast or down the center of a piece of celery
  • Add a handful of roasted almonds to a salad
  • Finely chop almonds and use them as a topping for pasta or steamed vegetables
  • Also add chopped almonds to plain yogurt
  • Pair with an apple for a healthy snack

To prepare chopped almonds, grind by hand or pulse them in a food processor. If you want to remove the skin (although almonds are healthier with the skin intact) simply blanch the nuts for a few minutes, rinse and the skin should come right off when pinching the almonds.

If you want to roast your own almonds, place almonds on a cookie sheet and roast for about 20 minutes in a 165 degree (Fahrenheit) oven.

Another Health Benefit of Almonds

Weight Loss

A low calorie diet high in monounsaturated fat can help people lose weight more effectively than a comparable diet high in complex carbohydrates, even if the amount of total calories ingested is the same! In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders those on an almond-enriched diet had greater reduction in weight, body fat, and systolic blood pressure. Those eating almonds also experienced a 62% greater reduction in their weight/BMI (body mass index), 50% greater reduction in waist circumference, and 56% greater reduction in body fat compared to those on the low calorie high carbohydrate diet!

Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that despite the high calories in almonds, the actually promote eating healthier. While eating almonds in their diets, study participants’ intake of health-promoting monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vegetable protein, vitamin E, copper and magnesium significantly increased. At the same time, their intake of trans-fatty acids, animal protein, sodium, cholesterol and sugars significantly decreased.

Almond Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

1 lb chicken breast, skinless
1 cup vegetable oil, plus extra to fry almonds
5 slices fresh ginger root
1/2 cup diced bamboo shoots
1 green pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup slivered almonds

Marinade

1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 egg white
Seasoning Sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp sugar

Directions

  • In a frying pan, heat some vegetable oil and fry the almonds until crispy.
  • Remove the almonds to drain on a paper towel.
  • Cut the chicken into 1 inch chunks.
  • In a bowl combine and whisk all ingredients for the marinade and add the chicken. Stir to coat evenly and let marinade for ½ hour.
  • In a wok heat 1 cup of vegetable oil. Add the chicken and stir fry until golden brown. Remove the chicken top drain.
  • Add ginger, pepper, bamboo and onion to wok and stir fry until crisp and tender, about 1 minute.
  • In small bowl add and whisk the ingredients for the seasoning sauce.
  • Remove any oil from wok and add sauce. Bring sauce to a boil, add the chicken and stir fry until chicken is well coated, then add the almonds. Stir fry a few more moments, then serve the almond chicken over rice.

Almond Butter Recipe

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups of blanched almonds, skin removed

Directions

Roast almonds in 170 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden.
Process the roasted almonds in a food processor until butter forms.