How Almonds Can Improve Your Heart Health

These nuts are packed with healthy monosaturated fat

Almonds with leaves

Sometimes, it’s okay to go a little bit nutty – especially if that means upping your intake of almonds.

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Native to the Mediterranean climate, almonds are a staple of a heart-healthy diet and provide many health benefits.

Like many other nuts, almonds are high in fat, which tends to give them a bad rap with consumers. It’s true they’re high in fat in  general, but they’re packed with healthy monounsaturated fat.

Increasing scientific evidence suggests that monounsaturated fats, found in the Mediterranean diet, positively impact heart health.

A handful of almonds, a heap of rewards

The nut is nutrition-packed. Nuts have fat, but the fat is healthy. Don’t be worried when you see that they’re higher in fat on the nutrition label.

Unsaturated fats aren’t just good for your heart, they boost serotonin levels during the day, which in turn help you sleep better at night.

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Almonds are also high in vitamin E, which helps to stave off infection and boost your immune system.

For those of us watching our weight, the most alluring benefit of  almonds is that they are a great source of fiber. That helps keep you feeling fuller for a longer time.

One study found people who ate nuts at least two times a week were less likely to gain weight than people who did not have nuts in their diet.

The amount of fiber found in almonds is especially important for patients with type 2 diabetes.  The fiber keeps your blood sugar more stable, which reduces the risk of having a spike. It also helps improve blood flow, which also is important for diabetics.

But if you’re trying to cut back on calories, be cautious with almonds. You only need a small handful to achieve this fiber-full-factor. One cup will cost you nearly 530 calories. So stick with about an ounce  about two dozen nuts  for about 160 calories.

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One way to visualize a single serving of nuts is to imagine them covering a 3-inch by 3-inch sticky note, or a quarter-cup measure.

Almonds keep you strong, too because they are chock-full of protein. That one-ounce serving contains 6 grams of protein.

Many people are surprised to learn that almonds also help to build strong bones and teeth.

Ounce for ounce, almonds are the highest in calcium among nuts, boasting 75 milligrams per ounce. Calcium works with vitamin D to build your bones and keep your body’s systems running at peak performance. So almonds make for a perfect post-workout snack.

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Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD

Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and Outpatient Nutrition Manager in the Center for Human Nutrition.