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Be heart-smart with almonds

health and fitness Updated: Sep 30, 2011 15:26 IST
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Today is World Heart Day. And as cardiovascular diseases are the world's largest killers, claiming 17.1 million lives a year. The event also aims to promote preventative measures that reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. This year you can take a pledge to give your heart a healthy diet and keep it away from all the disorders. This year on World Heart Day, keep your fist-sized vital organ healthy by giving it a healthy gift of fistful of almonds.

AlmondsAlmonds contain many nutrients that contribute to heart health, namely, fibre, mono-saturated fat, vitamin E and phyto-chemicals. Research has shown that these nutrients not only help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, but may also protect against obesity, cancer and diabetes by promoting satiety, contributing to healthy cholesterol levels and helping regulate blood sugar.

A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that compared to controls, participants who ate almonds-containing meals lost more weight and experienced greater improvements in their cholesterol profiles, two of the major contributing factors to heart health. That same research also documented increased alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) levels among the participants who consumed almonds. Vitamin E is thought to promote cardiovascular health by protecting against oxidative damage.

Almonds are a smart snack that offers many heart-healthy nutrients. More than 17 years of research and nine clinical studies support the role of almonds in helping maintain a healthy heart and healthy cholesterol levels. A fistful of almonds provide 6 grams of proteins and 3.5 grams of fibre and is an excellent source of vitamin E - 7.5 grams and 76 milligrams of magnesium. A handful of almonds apart from these also offer potassium, calcium and iron.

Almonds are high in several types of antioxidants. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods is thought to prevent damage to cells in your body, a mechanism implicated in the development of chronic disease. Fruits and vegetables have long been known for their antioxidant content, but more recently researcher have discovered that almonds also contain high levels of several antioxidant compounds, in amounts similar to levels found in many fruits and vegetables.

This is a heartfelt recommendation to take a positive approach to heart health. Just a handful of almonds provide several key nutrients that contribute to cardiovascular health. With all these nutrients on your platter you can enjoy each bite knowing that you are helping your heart grow stronger.