If you’re looking to increase your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, don’t rely on almonds. They contain only traces of the polyunsaturated fat your body needs but cannot produce. Instead, they are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, which are also good for your body in plenty of ways.
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are good for growing cells, improving brain function, fighting heart disease and increasing HDL, the good cholesterol.
They are found in fatty fishes, most notably salmon, mackerel, sardines; nuts, especially walnuts, flaxseed and pecans; several types of oils; grains; and beans.
Packed with Monounsaturated Fats
The monounsaturated fats are as good for your heart--and help reduce total cholesterol numbers--as omega-3s, but in a different way. Instead of increasing HDLs like omega-3s, monounsaturated fats reduce the bad cholesterol, LDL.
This is the same “good” fat that earns rave reviews for olive oil.
Five studies have determined that adding nuts to your diet decreases your risk of heart disease. In fact, the Nurses Health Study offered data that consuming an equivalent amount of nuts instead of carbohydrates could decrease heart disease risk as much as 30 percent. Moreover, substituting the monounsaturated fat in nuts for saturated fats in dairy and meat products could decrease heart disease risk by 45 percent.
Good for More Than Your Heart
Almonds are also a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant effective against heart disease and cancer. A one-quarter-cup serving provides 45 percent of your daily need for vitamin E and the same percentage for manganese. That same serving provides 20 percent of what you need each day in riboflavin, tryptophan and copper--at just 205 calories.
That same one-quarter-cup serving of almonds provides you with about 35 percent more protein than an egg.
Eat the almonds with their skins on and you “...double the antioxidant punch either delivers when administered separately,” Whole Foods reported from a study reported in the Journal of Nutrition.
According to other research Whole Foods cites, almonds--eaten with foods high on the glycemic index--dramatically reduce what the overall blood sugar increase would have been without the almonds.
Good for Weight Loss/Maintenance
A low-calorie diet that includes almonds can help you lose weight better than one loaded with complex carbohydrates.
According to a study reported in Obesity, weight gains were 31 percent less likely for people who eat nuts at least twice a week, compared to subjects who don't eat nuts.
If you’re looking for nuts with omega-3 fatty acids, try walnuts.
Don’t eat too much of a good thing. As much as 80 percent of any nut is fat--monounsaturated fat in the case of almonds. So enjoy your almonds, but in moderation.
Almonds are tree nuts and, as such, are in one of the eight allergen food groups named by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Almonds are best for you au naturel. Don’t counteract their health benefits by covering them in salt, sugar or chocolate.