Almonds may be bite sized, but these nuts pack a big nutritional punch. Almonds are an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E and manganese. They are also a good source of protein, fiber, copper, riboflavin, and even calcium. In fact, “almonds are actually one of the highest protein sources among tree nuts,” says Peggy O'Shea Kochenbach, MBA, RDN, LDN, a dietitian and consultant in Boston.
Are Almonds Beneficial for People with Diabetes?
Almonds, while nutritionally beneficial to most people, are especially good for people with diabetes. “Research has shown that almonds may reduce the rise in glucose (blood sugar) and insulin levels after meals,” says Kochenbach.
In a study published in Metabolism, the consumption of 2 ounces of almonds (about 45) was associated with lower levels of fasting insulin and fasting glucose. This amount has 340 calories. The key in this study is that the participants reduced their caloric intake by enough to accommodate the addition of the almonds so that no extra calories were consumed. In another study published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition, there was evidence that eating almonds could help increase insulin sensitivity in people with prediabetes.
Almonds and Magnesium
Almonds are high in magnesium, and experimental studies have suggested that dietary magnesium intake may reduce a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In a recent study, researchers found that long-term high blood sugar levels may cause a loss of magnesium in the urine. Because of this, people with diabetes may be at a greater risk for magnesium deficiency.
Almonds and Your Heart
Almonds may reduce your risk of heart disease and overall mortality. This is important for people with diabetes because, according to the World Heart Federation, people with diabetes are at a higher risk of heart disease.
“Almonds are high in monounsaturated fat,” says Kochenbach, “which is the same type of fat we often hear associated with olive oil for its heart health benefits. A 1-ounce serving of almonds contains 13 grams of unsaturated fat and only 1 gram of saturated fat.”
Nuts are a high calorie snack, but, when eaten in moderation, 1 to 2 ounces a day (about 23 to 45), they do not seem to contribute to increased weight gain. Not only do they contain healthy fats, but they also leaving you feeling satisfied.
How Many Almonds Should I Eat?
A few almonds can go a long way towards filling you up. Try to stick to a 1-ounce serving, which is about 23 almonds. One ounce of almonds contains 161 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 3 grams of dietary fiber.
To avoid mindless eating, try portioning out your almonds in small containers or plastic bags. Some companies also sell almonds in single-serving-size packages for an easy grab-and-go option.
The Versatile Almond
The grocery store offers a wealth of almond products, such as almond milk, various flavored nuts, almond butter, and more. When selecting an almond product, read the nutrition facts panel. Be wary of the sodium and sugar that can come from certain flavorings. Also watch out for the carbohydrate and sugar content in chocolate-covered nuts.
Are you ready to start enjoying the benefits of almonds but don’t know where to start? Almonds are incredibly versatile, so the possibilities are close to endless.
For breakfast, try sprinkling chopped, slivered, or shaved almonds on dry cereal or oatmeal, which has additional benefits for people with diabetes. Or spread almond butter on a piece of toast or add a tablespoon to your morning smoothie.
If you’re looking to spice up a snack, try adding whole almonds to trail mix, or pair them with an appropriate portion of your favorite fresh fruit. Almonds are also tasty on their own, and a great way to get you through an afternoon slump.
Lunch and Dinner
Toasted whole-grain bread spread with almond butter is a great lunch option. For dinner, almonds can easily be added to a number of entrees. Try sprinkling them on salads or into a stir-fry. You can even stir them into rice or other grain side dishes.
Almonds can even be integrated into dessert. Sprinkle them on top of frozen yogurt for an added crunch, or use almond meal in place of flour when baking.
Almonds offer a host of nutritional (and flavor) benefits, especially for people with diabetes. They are versatile and can easily be added to a wide variety of meals. They are high in calories, so remember to stick to recommended serving sizes to get the most from this nutritious nut.