The next time you're feeling hunger pangs between meals, don't reach for a bag of potato chips -- instead, grab a handful of almonds. Almonds are tree nuts that are packed with nutrients. Not only do they make a tasty snack, but they provide a variety of proven health benefits as well. Talk to your doctor before you include almonds in your diet, especially if you have allergies or health conditions.
A 1-ounce serving of almonds -- or about 24 almonds -- contains approximately 14 grams of fat. Most of this is healthy fat -- monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, as opposed to saturated fat. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats don't clog the arteries the same way saturated fat does. Instead of collecting in the bloodstream along the artery walls, healthy fats collect the saturated fat and remove it from the bloodstream, lowering low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol. Consuming healthy fats also raises your levels of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" cholesterol, which helps reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Additionally, almonds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which could reduce irregular heart rhythms and prevent a heart attack.
Almonds are packed with lean protein. A 1-ounce serving contains 6 grams of protein, but only a negligible amount of saturated fat. MayoClinic.com recommends that adults consume between 50 and 175 grams of protein per day, and eating almonds is a healthy way to achieve this goal. Almonds are a nutritious option for vegetarians, because adding them to salads, rice, oatmeal and yogurt will increase the protein count of the meal. A high-protein snack, like a handful of almonds, helps curb the appetite with minimal calories. A 1-ounce serving of almonds contains approximately 170 calories per serving.
Almonds aren't only a nutritious snack; they're also the main ingredient in almond milk, a lactose-free milk substitute. Almond milk is a creamy, white beverage that is added to cereal, recipes or consumed by itself as a drink. Like almonds, almond milk is high in protein and healthy fats, but it's also a nutritious substitute for cow's milk. Almond milk contains nearly half the fat of whole milk, and most of this fat is polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, rather than the saturated fat found in cow's milk. Almond milk contains no lactose, so it is a healthy substitute for individuals who are unable to drink cow's milk due to lactose intolerance.
Eat a 1-ounce serving of almonds and you'll get approximately 3 grams of fiber. Because fiber adds bulk to your stool and takes longer to digest, almonds make you feel full and satisfied for longer periods of time. Women should consume between 22 and 28 g of fiber per day, notes MayoClinic.com. Although you probably won't get all the fiber you need from nuts, almonds may help you consume less if you eat them as a snack when you're feeling hungry throughout the day.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.