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Almonds are a Powerful Cure for Bad Cholesterol, Obesity and More

by Barbara Minton
See all TBYIL articles by Barbara Minton

(The Best Years in Life) Does eating to regain your health have to involve the latest discovery from the Amazon or the deserts of South America? Absolutely not. What you need is right on your grocer's shelf. For example, you can go a long way toward getting your cholesterol numbers looking good and yourself feeling great simply by adding almonds to a nutritious diet. This is because almonds normalize cholesterol levels and the ratio between LDL and HDL cholesterol. And it does it without the deadly side effects of statin drugs.

But that's just the beginning. Eating almonds provides super-strength protection against diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and even weight gain and obesity.

Almonds are stars of cholesterol research

In a four week study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 46 healthy human subjects were divided into three groups. The control group ate a low saturated fat diet based on milled whole-wheat cereals and low-fat dairy foods. The second group ate the same diet and also took the statin drug Lovastatin. The third group ate a diet high in almonds plus plant sterols, non-meat protein, and fiber. LDL cholesterol decreased by 8% in the control group, 30% in the statin group, and an almost equivalent 28% in the almond group.

Another study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that heart disease risk correlates not only with cholesterol levels, but also with inflammation of blood vessels. Following a diet that includes almonds normalizes cholesterol levels and also C-reactive protein levels, a key marker of inflammation. Inflammation is hard on the heart because it increases the development of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and causes the heart to have to pump faster and harder to get its job done. In this study, the C-reactive protein levels of the almond eaters fell 24% from baseline, an amount similar to the reduction achieved by taking a statin drug, only without the life draining side effects.

Five large human epidemiological studies, including the Nurses Health Study, all found that nut consumption is linked to lower risk for heart disease. Researchers studying data from the Nurses study found that substituting nuts for an equivalent amount of carbohydrates in an average diet resulted in a 30% reduction in heart disease risk.

Almonds protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes

Almonds' ability to reduce heart disease risk may also be due to the huge amounts of the antioxidant Vitamin E found in these nuts, and the LDL lowering effect of the monounsaturated fats they contain. When almonds are substituted for more traditional fats in human feeding trials, LDL cholesterol is reduced by a range of 8 to 12%.

A quarter cup of almonds contains 99mg of magnesium and 257mg of potassium. Magnesium is a natural channel blocker. When magnesium levels are high, veins and arteries relax, lessening resistance and allowing increased flow of oxygen and nutrient rich blood. Potassium is involved in nerve transmission and contraction of all muscles, including the heart. It is another mineral essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Almonds also help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent insulin spikes.

The Journal of Nutrition recently reported a study of 15 healthy people who each ate 5 meals with comparable amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fat. The meals were designed to promote blood sugar spikes. Two meals consisted of bread only, and three meals consisted of bread, parboiled rice, and instant mashed potatoes, with the addition of almonds. Blood samples taken after each meal showed levels of blood sugar and insulin were lower following the almond meal, and levels of protective antioxidants increased. This study demonstrates the powerful anti-aging effect of almonds as well as their ability to ward off diabetes.

The more almonds eaten as part of a meal, the lower will be the glycemic index of that meal, and the smaller the rise in blood sugar levels produced by that meal.

  

Healthy fats in almonds promote in weight loss

Nuts contain lots of fat, and many people still operate under the idea that eating fat makes people fat, so nuts are often shunned. However review of the data from the Nurses’ Health Study shows that frequent nut eaters are thinner on average than those who almost never consume nuts.

One reason nuts help with weight loss is their nutrient density. A body that is well nourished no longer craves food. The traditional American diet is so depleted of nutrients that the body continues to send hunger signals even after eating a large meal. In response to these signals, more nutrient deficient food is usually eaten and more hunger signals are sent. It is a vicious circle that leads to steady weight gain as the years go by. Eating nutrient rich almonds and other nuts breaks this vicious circle and allows for feelings of fullness and satiety to set in.

In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, researchers found that adding almonds to a low calorie diet can help overweight individuals drop pounds more effectively than a low calorie diet high in complex carbohydrates. Of 65 overweight participants, those who ate the almond enriched low calorie diet consumed 39% of their calories in the form of fat. Participants who ate the low calorie diet high in complex carbohydrates consumed only 18% of their calories from fat. Both diets supplied the same number of calories and equivalent amounts of protein.

After six months, those on the diet that included almonds had greater reductions in weight, body fat, total body water, and systolic blood pressure. Those eating almonds had a whopping 62% greater reduction in body mass index score, 50% greater reduction in waist circumference, and 56% greater reduction in body fat compared to those on the low calorie complex carbohydrate diet. Among those with diabetes, medication reductions were sustained or further reduced in 96% in those on the almond-added diet.

A study reported in World's Healthiest Foods involving 8865 adults found that those who ate nuts at least two times per week were 31% less likely to gain weight than were those who never or seldom ate them.

The British Journal of Nutrition reported a study of 43 men and 38 women whose normal eating patterns were observed for 6 months. They were then told to eat about 2 ounces or one-quarter cup of almonds daily with no other instructions, and they were then followed for another 6 months. At the end of that time, researchers found the participants intake of monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vegetable protein, Vitamin E, copper and magnesium had significantly increased. Their intake of trans fatty acids, animal protein, sodium, cholesterol and sugars significantly decreased. Apparently the eating of almonds can bring on a nutritional transformation!

Almonds are a good source of cancer preventing laetrile

The 1990’s Adventist Health Study of a large population of California Seventh Day Adventists found that eating nuts was one of the four top factors for extending longevity. These beneficial effects were found for men, women, vegetarians, meat-eaters, fatter people, thinner people, the old, the young, those who exercised and those who did not.

One of the likely reasons behind this finding is the high levels of laetrile contained in almonds. Laetrile, also known as Vitamin B-17, is a cancer solution that corruption has prevented from reaching the U.S. market. In other countries, commercial preparations of laetrile are obtained from the kernels of apricots, peaches and almonds. Laetrile's active ingredient, amygdaline, comes from the Greek word for almond. Laetrile has persisted as a known cancer fighter since the 2nd century A.D.

Almonds have prebiotic properties

Recently published work by the Institute of Food Research has identified prebiotic properties of almonds that could help improve digestive health by encouraging gut bacteria to flourish. A healthy and abundant population of friendly bacteria in the gut form part of the body’s defense against harmful bacteria, and are the basis of the body’s immune system. Prebiotics are non-digestible parts of foods that are able to get through the upper part of the intestine without being digested or absorbed.

The California Almond Board sponsored a study to subject almonds to the same conditions experienced in the stomach and small intestine. They then added the digested almonds in vitro to mimic the bacterial fermentation in the large intestine, and monitored its effect on the population of intestinal bacteria. The study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, found that finely ground almonds significantly increased the levels of beneficial bacteria. This effect was not seen when the fat content was removed from the almond preparation, suggesting that the beneficial bacteria used the almond lipids for growth, thus making them the basis of the prebiotic effect of almonds.

Almonds have even more nutrients and benefits

Almonds are high in trace minerals that are essential co-factors for production of superoxide dismutase (SOD), one of the body’s endogenous antioxidants. SOD works in the mitochondria, the cellular furnace, to keep down free radicals that interfere with cellular energy production. Almonds are also good sources of the B vitamins necessary for recycling of another endogenous antioxidant, glutathione.

Studies have shown that eating nuts can lower the risk of developing gallstones by 25% and help prevent dementia, advanced macular degeneration, and stroke.

Getting maximum nutrition from almonds

Almonds right off the store shelf are much better than no almonds at all, but they can be difficult to digest, and eating too many may stress your pancreas. Almonds, like all nuts, contain phytate, nature’s way of making sure the nut survives the winter to sprout in the spring. To gain maximum nutrition and digestibility from almonds, it’s best to soak them before they are eaten. Almonds are one of only a few nuts that will actually sprout when soaked. Soaking neutralizes the phytate and other inhibitors and allows the nutrients from the nut to be released.

Start with fresh, completely unprocessed almonds and soak them in water with a pinch of sea salt for about 12 hours. Then dry them at a temperature not exceeding 105 degrees F. Be sure they are completely dried before putting them away. There are several good sources online for buying nuts suitable for sprouting. Delicious almonds already sprouted and ready to eat can be ordered online too.

The decision was made in 2007 to require all almonds grown in California, including raw almonds, to be pasteurized prior to being sold in North America. For those wishing to get the most from their almonds, unpasteurized imported almonds are the better choice.

Go nuts with almonds

Almonds make a great snack for adults and kids. Use almond butter as a breakfast spread on warm toast, or a nourishing lunchbox centerpiece stuffed into celery ribs. Kids love almond butter and fruit sandwiches. Almonds are crispy and crunchy, making them a super addition to salads, casseroles, pasta, vegetables, and meat dishes. Include almonds in Chinese dishes and rice. Add cinnamon or other herbs and spices to almonds to turn up their nutritional value even higher. Coat them with honey or shoyu and roll in herbs, spices or cocoa. Use your imagination.

See also:

Don't let concerns over extra calories prevent you from enjoying the many health benefits of wholesome nuts

A brief discussion of the high cholesterol myth and the dangers of statin drugs

The Truth About Lowering Cholesterol

Prominent heart doctor exposes the myths about cholesterol, statins and low fat diets

For more information:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=2
http://www.almondboard.com/Consumer/Pages/EllieKrieger.aspx
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=324

 

About the author:

Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.

See other articles by the Barbara Minton here:


AlignLife: http://alignlife.com/author/bminton/
Natural News: http://www.naturalnews.com/author358.html

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