In America they seem to have a food holiday for everything. Check out this extensive list if you are interested! So while they may not all be so well recognised around the world (or even in America) given that February 16th is national almond day…we are going to roll with it! Feb 16 also happens to be the first day of Healthy Weight Week here in Australia…this is a very fitting coincidence because almonds are also associated with heart health and have been shown to assist in maintaining a healthy weight. So in the spirit of national almond day and healthy weight week, we thought we would share some of the key nutritional benefits of nuts and in particular almonds!
Why nuts really are a ‘superfood’:
- Great source of protein, which we need to keep the body functioning correctly by assisting with growth, maintenance and the repairing of tissues in the body. In particular nuts represent an important source of protein for vegans and vegetarians who need to combine vegetable proteins each day to ensure they are getting all the essential amino acids.
- Source of fibre – although well known, fibre is sometimes overlooked in terms of diet, however it is essential for ensuring efficient digestion and keeping everything moving, so to speak. Fibre also:
- Assists with weight management as it makes you feel full
- Binds cholesterol in the body for excretion, reducing the risk of heart disease
- Regulates blood glucose levels, which helps prevent diabetes
- Excellent source of mono and polyunsaturated fats (the good kinds) which are essential for a healthy, functioning body. Despite its past bad rap due to the ‘low fat’ era, fats are making a comeback as people become more away of the different types of fats and the essential role they play in our bodies. So what do they do:
- Essential for brain function – particularly important for children’s growing young brains and for maximizing the function of an ageing brain
- Large component of cell membranes
- Provide insulation to keep us warm
- Important source of energy
- Necessary for the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins:
- Vitamin A: growth, healthy skin, teeth, vision, boosts immune system, powerful antioxidant
- Vitamin D: absorption of calcium & phosphorous, building & maintaining healthy bones & teeth, boosts immune system, helps muscle function
- Vitamin E : antioxidant, healthy skin & heart, strengthens immune system
- Vitamin K : blood clotting & healthy bones
While all nuts are a source of protein, fibre and essential fats (with the benefits outlined above), different nuts vary in their nutritional composition and consequently offer different health benefits. We could go into them all but for now we are just going to focus on almonds.
So what is SO great about almonds
- High in vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant which helps improve the condition and appearance of skin.
- High in flavonoids which support the strength of the immune system. Flavanoids are water soluble compounds that are also powerful antioxidants with antivirus, anticancer, anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties which help our body to fight disease.
- Source of calcium which is essential for strong bones and teeth. Almonds represent a good source for those individuals who do not consume dairy foods.
- Source of phosphorous which also assists in bone health by maintaining the strength and durability of bones and teeth.
- Source of potassium which combined with the low level of sodium in almonds helps to regulate blood pressure, in turn assisting with heart health.
Tip: Have 30g of nuts per day to assist with heart health and weight maintenance!