Thursday, July 06, 2006

Study: Almonds Healthy As Fruits And Veggies

Almonds are a low-carb dieter's secret, super-healthy power food

People who are livin' la vida low-carb already know almonds are an excellent low-carb snack packed full of protein, fiber and healthy fats. But this Food Navigator column cites a new study that finds almonds are just as healthy for your body as the highly-touted fruits and vegetables because of the density of antioxidants in them.

Dr. Blumberg says almond consumption could lower disease risk

Lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey B. Blumberg, Senior Scientist and Director of the Antioxidant Research Laboratory at Tufts University, tested the eight most common kinds of almonds grown in California for their nutritional content.

What he found was that the almonds tested contained three specific antioxidants: catechin, epicatechin and kaempferol. Each of these are well-known for their restorative properties of cells damaged by free radicals which can generally cause the rapid spread of diseases like heart disease, cancer and strokes as well as a noticeable decline in overall health in humans.

Almonds were found by Dr. Blumberg and his team to be as antioxidant-rich as the popular dietary supplement green tea and just one serving of almonds were as potent in the antioxidant flavenoid as a serving of broccoli.

Hey, I think I'll eat the almonds instead! :D

Fruits and vegetables are the holy grail of health foods

Isn't this an amazing discovery?! How long have we heard from people who tell us, "If you want to eat healthy, then you need to avoid your fats and eat your fruits and vegetables." That's been repeated like a broken record for so long that it hardly ever gets challenged by ANYONE, despite the evidence like this study that shows high-fat, low-carb foods like almonds are JUST AS HEALTHY for you to eat as fruits and vegetables.

GASP! You can't say that! Why, everyone knows fruits and veggies are untouchable and indisputable as the kings of the health food world, right? I hate to burst you bubble if you REALLY believe that, but you have been grossly misled. The fact of the matter is while many fruits and vegetables are indeed good for you to consume, there are many more that are no more healthy for you than a Big Mac, Super-Sized French Fries, and a Large Coca-Cola!

What?! That's blasphemy. How can you equate foods as virtuous as fruits and vegetables with fast food? How, you ask? That's easy. Some starchy vegetables are so loaded down with carbohydrates they will set your blood sugar racing skyward faster than you can sneeze. At the same time, many fruits are loaded down with as much sugar as a candy bar or soda pop which make them an unreasonable choice for people to choose when they are livin' la vida low-carb.

So what can you eat? Besides lots of green, leafy vegetables, cauliflower, brocolli, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and other low-glycemic, nutrient-dense fruits and veggies, studies like this one from Dr. Blumberg confirm that nut consumption is probably not such a bad idea after all. Of course, this is gonna tick off the low-fat diet supporters because they can't have these delicious and healthy almonds since they are much too high in fat for them to eat.

You know what, though? That certainly begs the question: If almonds are as healthy for people to eat as fruits and vegetables are, then why don't people following a low-fat diet add them to their menu of choices? The answer is they have been scared silly by the fat-phobia maniacs out there who have hammered away at how bad fat is for so many decades that people actually believe fat is what makes them fat. I used to be that ignorant and brainwashed, too.

Thankfully, there are those of us who have seen the light and learned more about how fat is indeed an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and nuts play an important role in giving us our daily intake of healthy fats.

Now that almonds have been declared the next great health food, be looking for them to be added to more and more foods in the coming months and years.

I already try to eat at least a handful of almonds daily. These high-fiber, high-protein nuts contain just 160 calories and are full of the nutrients magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamin E. Other studies have shown they can even lower your cholesterol by 4.4 percent by blocking the oxidation of LDL "bad" cholesterol.

The brand I buy from my local Walgreen's store contains over 300mg of potassium which serves two purposes for me. First, I am salt-sensitive so it helps reduce the amount of sodium that is used to flavor them. Second, the potassium helps me ward off the leg cramps associated with a deficiency in this nutrient when you are following a low-carb program. I LOVE THEM and they give me the crunchy goodness I need to satisfy my appetite when the hunger bug hits.

Dr. Blumberg's study was funded in part by the Almond Board of California and was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

You can e-mail Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg about his study at

Be sure to stock up on these foods with almonds in them: Nostalgia cookies, Flax Z Snax, Eat Well, Be Well Cereals, and GoLower bars.


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