Almonds and Almond Butter

The versatile almond is a protein powerhouse, packing 7.62 grams of protein (even more than an egg if you can believe it!) per quarter cup. Almonds and almond butter are one of my favorite things to eat and consist of at least 25% of my diet daily! They are available throughout the year to make a healthy and tasty addition to both sweet and savory dishes!

A handful of raw, unsalted almonds or a spread of raw, unsalted, crunchy almond butter on top of a five seed almond flax bar from Trader’s Joe’s are my “go to” SNACK! Trader Joe’s also offers an almond butter with flax added (an additional fiber punch for those of you looking to get more fiber in your diet).

I always feel more focused and energized after eating it because it has just the right combination of nutrients! Let me educate you on the benefits of almonds and almond butter from a nutritional standpoint! You might want to start snacking on some while you read this….;-) YUM!!

Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats (the type of health-promoting fats that are also found in olive oil and avocados), which help to lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) and reduce your risk of heart disease. Almonds are also high in Vitamin E with an antioxidant action that has been shown to reduce heart disease and may play a role in cancer prevention. A quarter cup of almonds also contains 99 mg of magnesium and 257 mg of potassium!

Magnesium helps to improve the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Potassium is an important electrolyte that is involved in nerve transmission and muscle contraction (including the heart muscle which is the most important one)! Almond’s healthy fat may help you lose weight or maintain your current weight. The manganese, copper and riboflavin in almonds help with energy production.

Almonds provide protection against diabetes and cardiovascular disease. They not only decrease after-meal rises in blood sugar, but also provide antioxidants to get rid of the smaller amounts of free radicals that still result. Therefore, almonds are a great addition to your diet whether you have Diabetes or not! So, think twice before you are going for that “whole wheat muffin” (which is most likely packed with trans fat instead of the monounsaturated fat) in the morning and grab a 100-calorie pack of almonds instead! It is best to eat whole almonds (with skins) because they pack the most flavonoids (antioxidants) to promote optimal health.

Here are a few ways to add this heart healthy nut into your diet daily:

  • Add a sprinkle of slivered almonds to your nonfat Greek yogurt and chopped fresh fruit in the morning or as a night snack.
  • Mix 1-2 tbsp. of almond butter into your protein shake post workout.
  • Spread almond butter on top of your whole wheat bread or Ezekiel toast for breakfast.
  • Enhance your curried vegetable dish with slivered almonds.
  • Dip your apple slices into almond butter for an afternoon snack (I know that is when your sweet tooth kicks in…so choose this healthy alternative instead of candy at the office!)
  • Add slivered almonds to your chicken salad.

Eating almonds daily leads to a more balanced, healthy lifestyle. Whether your goals are to lower your LDL cholesterol, lose weight, or add more nutrients to your daily intake…almonds cover all bases! Although almonds are calorie dense, they are also extremely nutrient dense and you can eat less of them and get full more quickly than if you were eating crackers until the box is gone! This is all the more reason why almonds are a great alternative to chips, crackers and cookies, any time of the day!

To learn more about healthy meal and snack planning, schedule an appointment with Courtney Walberg, Registered Dietitian and Founder of Nutrition For Body And Mind.