If you look at all of the different options of nuts that are available on the shelves of your grocery store you will quickly notice that many of them have a statement that is often depicted with a big red heart symbol. This statement reads, “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” This comes from the FDA. For the FDA to make a statement like that it must mean that there is some strong research to back it up.
While many nuts are included as being good for your heart, one nut stands above the rest. That nut is the almond – though, almonds are technically seeds and not nuts. What makes almonds so good for you?
Almonds are high in dietary fiber. In one serving you can get 3mg of fiber, which is a lot. Including fiber in your diet is known to help reduce cholesterol levels and to decrease the risk of heart disease.
Almonds are full of Vitamin E. This is very important for fighting plaque buildup in the walls of your arms. Plaque is created when bad cholesterol (LDL) is broken down through a process called oxidation. Vitamin E interactions with LDL molecules in a way that it prevails this breakdown process. In a study at Harvard it was discovered that the most dangerous type of cholesterol has very low levels of Vitamin E.
Almonds are high in monounsaturated fat. In recent years fat's role as being enemy number one has decreed and doctors are becoming aware that some fats are very good for the body. One 'good' fat is monounsaturated fat. In several studies it has shown that monounsaturated fats help to decrease the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood. It is thought that this link is due to monounsaturated fat changing the LDL molecules so they're 'stick' to the liver, thus reducing the amount flowing in your blood.
However, it is wise to be aware that almonds do contain a lot of calories in even small amounts. A serving of almonds, which is typically 20-30 almonds, can contain 200 or more calories. Therefore, it is best to use some restraint when eating almonds. Gaining weight will counteract any positive effects you may achieve by eating these nuts.
People who face the reality of high cholesterol may not also want to go the route of prescription drugs. By changing your diet, even in the slightest ways, it is possible to manage cholesterol levels without facing the possible side effects of medication. Nuts, and more specifically almonds, are a great way to start.