Almonds are designated a “Gaples Staple” because they rank especially highly in health, taste, and affordability.
A just released study confirms strong health benefits from nuts. Two groups were studied on the same diet, except half had a handful of almonds (1.5 oz) once a day and the other half did not eat nuts but consumed an equal number of calories of a high carb snack. At the end of 6 weeks, the almond eaters had lower LDL cholesterol (about 5 points), and less belly fat!
This study helps explain why people who eat nuts regularly (almonds and walnuts are best studied) have a significantly lower risk of heart disease. One large study showed a 37% reduced risk of heart disease with 4 servings of nuts/week.
Some people are concerned about weight gain from nuts because of their high caloric density, ~200 calories for a handful of nuts. Interestingly enough, most studies don’t show a weight gain with nuts-many even show a tendency toward weight loss!
Part of the explanation is that nuts are not completely digested. Another theory (not yet confirmed) is that nuts act as a prebiotic, helping to nurture healthy bacteria in the gut that help maintain normal weight. Regardless, the best practice, as shown in the first study mentioned, is to substitute nuts for other less healthy snacks you might be eating.
I usually buy my nuts at Trader Joes, where a package of 13 individually wrapped servings of 1.25 oz of unsalted raw almonds costs about 50 cents per serving. Ideal for keeping in your pocket or purse during the day for snacking on the run.
At last…the perfect pocket pills!
Links to the Original Research: