06 Jun Go a Little Nuts
Almonds are among my favorite snack foods. Not only are they super convenient (no prep time whatsoever), but they’re also rich in fiber, vitamins, and monounsaturated fatty acids. A 2011 Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases study shows strong evidence that almonds even have cholesterol-lowering effects. So, there are plenty of reasons to snack on almonds, but only one reason why you shouldn’t go hog wild on the nuts: calorie count. Fortunately, there is some good news on this front. According to a 2012 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, almonds actually have about 20 percent fewer calories than we thought.
A similar study published in a 2012 British Journal of Nutrition found that pistachios have about 5 percent fewer calories than we previously thought. We calculate all energy that comes from food by a method called the Atwater factor, but these studies are now indicating that the formula may not be accurate for every food – especially almonds.
In preparation for the AJCN study, researchers analyzed the feces of people who ate different quantities of nuts. It sounds pretty gross, but what they found was surprising. Researchers found that the people who ate more nuts had more fat in their poop. What does that mean? Well, their bodies aren’t absorbing all the fat in the nut. So, there’s a disconnect between the energy content of the nut and what our bodies use.
Here are some tips for enjoying almonds on a regular basis.
1. You can now eat about 20 percent more! One serving of almonds is about 20 to 25 nuts. That serving was calculated by using the Atwater data, so you can comfortably add four or five nuts to your daily quota. If you don’t count, don’t worry. It’s about a handful of nuts.
2. Chew your almonds well. The almond’s cell walls protect all the great nutrients inside; chewing helps all that good stuff break free so it can be used by your body.
3. Try almond milk. Eating almonds every single day may get a little boring. You can get a lot of the same benefits from drinking almond milk – especially if it’s homemade. Place about a cup and a half of soaked almonds into a blender with about 4 cups of milk. Blend for about two minutes. Add vanilla extract and honey for flavor, if you’d like it sweet. Strain the chunks out with cheesecloth and you should end up with about five cups of almond milk.