A new study shows that eating almonds can reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping blood vessels healthy.
Researchers found that the nuts significantly increase the amount of antioxidants in the bloodstream, reduce blood pressure, and improve blood flow. These findings support the theory that Mediterranean diets with lots of nuts have significant health benefits.
The study was conducted at Aston University in Birmingham, UK. Researchers tested the effects of a short-term almond-enriched diet on healthy young and middle-aged men as well as on a group of young men with cardiovascular risk factors including having high blood pressure or being overweight.
Almonds contain an abundance of beneficial substances such as vitamin E and healthy fats, fiber, and flavonoids. The researchers believe it is likely to be the combination of all these components working together to create the overall health benefits rather than just one particular nutrient in isolation.
Lead researcher Professor Helen Griffiths said, “Our study confirms that almonds are a superfood. Previous studies have shown that they keep your heart healthy, but our research proves that it isn’t too late to introduce them into your diet — adding even a handful (around 50g) every day for a short period can help. You could replace a daytime snack with a bag of almonds or add them to your regular meals like porridge or muesli to help reduce your risk of heart problems.”
Almonds are easy to incorporate into your diet. They can be used to make a milk substitute and flour (great options for people who cannot consume dairy or gluten). Almond flour is a perfect substitute for regular flour in cookies and other recipes. Sliced almonds are a delicious addition to salads and wrap sandwiches. Try almond butter in place of peanut butter in recipes and on sandwiches.
Store almonds in an airtight container so they do not go rancid. Almonds keep best in a dark, cool environment. They can stay good for up to two years if stored in the refrigerator, according to the Almond Board of California. If you want them to last up to four years, freeze them in airtight containers.
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Contributed by Lisa Egan of Ready Nutrition.