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Almonds for Your Heart

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Eating Almonds Daily May Lower Bad Cholesterol

Next time you’re feeling the 3 pm slump, try snacking on a handful of almonds. Packed with protein, monounsaturated fat and lots of micronutrients, almonds are a heart-smart afternoon snack and perhaps the perfect gift to show your Valentine some love, according to research from Penn State.

For the 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, 48 adults with high LDL (bad) cholesterol ate a cholesterol-lowering diet for two different six-week periods. Diets were identical during the two periods with the exception of the provided snack: either 1.5 ounces of unsalted almonds or a calorically similar muffin with butter. At the beginning, middle and end of the study, participants underwent a series of physical and clinical health assessments, including blood analysis and waistline measurements.

Though all participants maintained their usual weights throughout the study, eating almonds every day was linked to signs of better heart health, including a 36% greater drop in levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol as compared to when participants snacked on muffins. Snacking on almonds also helped to reduce abdominal fat mass over three times more than snacking on muffins.

Judging from these results, almonds may help improve heart health and lower risk of cardiovascular disease. One ounce of almonds (about 23 whole almonds) provides 164 calories, about 9 grams of monounsaturated fat, vitamin E (24% DV), manganese (31% DV), riboflavin (19% DV), magnesium (19%), copper (15%), fiber (14% DV) and protein (12% DV). With a nutrient profile like that, it’s no wonder a 2016 study out of the University of Florida found simply adding 1.5 ounces of almonds to your daily diet improves diet quality by 14%.

Enjoy almonds as a snack, in a salad, on oatmeal, or in a tasty recipe. Blackberry Salad with Avocado and Almonds is a simple way to incorporate these healthful nuts into a meal.

BONUS: Snack on almonds and you may improve bone health, thanks to the 7.2 mg vitamin E (24% daily value) per ounce. In a study from the Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism rats fed oil enriched with vitamin E increased femur bone density by 80% compared with those fed straight olive oil. 

Published February 1, 2016

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