LIVE LONGER, LOOK BETTER, HAVE BETTER SEX, EAT MORE ALMONDS
Yet another series of studies has come up with the shocking news that eating nuts is insanely good for your body. This time the American Society of Nutrition Scientific Session said in San Diego that a daily handful of almonds will help stave off innumerable nasty diseases. It would appear that almonds are full of vitamin E, which protects against Alzheimer’s Disease and the bad effects of Ultra-Violet light. They do get an awful lot of sunshine in California. Eating some almonds seems a small price to pay to stave off abnormal moles and cancerous melanoma. Possibly because they like sunbathing and walking around with bare suntanned legs and arms, women get a disproportionate amount of fatal skin cancers on their shapely limbs.
Naturally, there has to be more benefits from eating almonds other than not being one of the 48,000 people a year who die of melanoma-related skin cancer. Luckily there are. Almonds are high in protein, suppress the appetite, help beat stomach flab and stave off heart diseases. Also, eating almonds reduces the concentration of glucose in the blood, which helps to prevent type 2 diabetes.
All nuts are also full of trace amounts of good stuff such as manganese, which helps prevent osteoporosis, again more common in women than in men. Manganese also helps the body to regulate blood sugar, and trust me, you do not want to ever get type 2 diabetes. Almonds also contain magnesium, and this mineral is essential for the proper operation of your nervous system, muscles, regulating blood pressure, and once again helping to control blood glucose.
As is usual with things from plants, the skin is the best part, so don’t buy blanched almonds. Get them brown and crunchy ~ lightly salted if you must. The almond skin has flavonoids, (secondary metabolites), which are antioxidants, (and free oxygen radicals are bad for you), and these flavonoids also enhance the effectiveness of the vitamin E in the nuts.
It seems that these pretty little nuts, (what man doesn’t love girls with almond eyes?), increase our intake of good nutrients, improve the overall quality of the diet, and somehow make people feel better, physiologically speaking. There is also evidence to show that snacking on almonds / other nuts, help to reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol. Some say that all nuts are jam-packed with calories, and will therefore make you fat. The answers to that are; yes nuts are packed with calories, but no they won’t make you fat. The human digestive system is appallingly bad at breaking down hard plant material, so most of the calories in nuts pass straight through the GI tract. Don’t believe me, eat a lot of nuts and then examine your next day’s stool.
Because they don’t digest well, nuts make you feel full, which reduces your appetite, so almonds are good for adding into a healthier diet and moderate exercise.
Dr Penny Kris-Etherton of Penn State University has studied the effects of adults snacking on a handful of almonds a day, as opposed to ‘calorie matched’ high carbohydrate snacks. Although the total body weight of the two groups stayed about the same, those snacking on almonds has flatter stomachs, less abdominal fat, and a narrower waist than those who grossed out on biscuits and crisps, (cookies and chips) So eating almonds helps to decrease abdominal fat, and that reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome ~ the technical / medical term for a mixture of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and coronary heart diseases. Seemingly all this almond stuff is generally good for your blood vessels, but I have no idea if almonds help stave of varicose veins.
Especially if you are fat, a woman, and pregnant, you should be snacking on almonds, (and / or other nuts). Some fairly respectable doctors and scientists think that snacking on almonds helps promote a healthier weight gain during pregnancy.
The best almonds are fresh, which means buying them in mid / late summer. But as long as they still have the brown skin on them the seeds of the almond tree, (cousin to the cherry, peach, and apricot), are full of good stuff. Almond oil can go rancid, so if you’re keeping them a long time, store your almonds in an airtight container.
A small handful of almonds has about 150 calories, (which you can’t properly digest), and contains about 1/8 of your daily fibre requirements, 1/4 of the copper your body needs, 1/5 of your daily vitamin B2, half of the vitamin E and biotins, (vitamin B7 & H), you need a day, and some 1/6 of your phosphorous, magnesium and molybdenum. Do not buy Californian almonds if you can avoid it. The Almond Board of California has decreed that all Californian almonds must be pasteurized, irradiated, or otherwise rendered totally dead, and these processes destroy a lot of the good stuff in the little nuts.
Allegedly there are nine major health benefits to be gained from eating almonds;
- Reduced risk of having a heart attack.
- Lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol.
- Protects the blood systems.
- Builds strong bones and teeth.
- Almonds aid in weight loss by providing healthy fats and fibre.
- Lowers the blood sugar and insulin after meals.
- Boost brain activity and helps stave of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Nourishes and nurtures the nervous system.
- They alkalize the body, which helps prevent osteoporosis.
The more cynical among us may believe that the health benefits of eating almonds is a little overstated by Californian medical and scientific professionals, given that the USA is the world’s largest producer of almonds and a lot of those are grown in California. As I said before, if you can get almonds that haven’t been totally killed-off, these should be better for you than the Californian grown nuts. (You can get things like salmonella from fresh almonds, but you can also get salmonella from chicken, eggs and alfalfa sprouts.)
Bitter wild almonds are to be avoided at all costs. In fact anything from the various trees of the species Prunus, should be left well alone unless you know exactly what you’re doing. Bitter almonds and the seeds of plums and cherries contain cyanide, which will kill you. What you need are sweet almonds, and if you soak them in vodka for a while you get a very acceptable drink.
The bottom line is; Almost all nuts are incredibly good for you in moderation. If you can, buy the fresh product as opposed to ‘dead’ nuts.