Almonds – Health Benefits, Nutritional Content and Its Use in Bodybuilding and Fitness Diets

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Health Benefits of Almonds

Several clinical studies [1][2] demonstrated that almond consumption leads to reduced cholesterol concentration in the blood stream, especially LDL or (“bad”) cholesterol.

According to epidemiological data, a daily consumption of 30 g of almonds could reduce by 45% the risk of cardiovascular diseases, when such healthy food source replace foods rich in saturated fatty acids.
These benefits may be due to the high content in almonds of different ingredients recognized for their cholesterol-lowering effects, such as the phytosterols, but also mono-unsaturated fatty acids, vegetable protein and soluble fiber.

Thanks to its content of high antioxidant vitamin E [3], almonds may also help protect our cells from premature aging caused by the effects of free radicals. As part of a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, the consumption of almonds would have a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension and cognitive decline.

Almonds are among the nuts with quite rich fat content. Yet their daily consumption indirectly facilitates weight loss. Concerning the practice of bodybuilding, almonds are a good source of protein and can be eaten after your workout.

Here is a table of its general nutrients content:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almonds and its fat content

Almonds are composed of approximately 50% fat, 35% of which are mono-unsaturated fats. Among these beneficial fats is the oleic acid: this healthy for the body lipid has a high energy potential, and is also abundant in olive oil (60-80%). Unsaturated fatty acids are involved in the reduction of LDL and therefore the reduction of overall cholesterol levels.

Among the 50% fats provided by almonds, there is also 10% omega-6 fatty acid known under the name of linoleic acid, which is an essential fatty acid (cannot be synthesized by the body).
Finally, 5% of the fats are saturated fatty acids, which can be found in quite large quantities also in palm oil.
Almonds are a great appetite suppressant for people practicing fitness and bodybuilding. When consuming whole almonds, the salivary juices and chewing are not sufficient for optimal digestion of nutrients and some fats are not completely assimilated. So in other words, it’s best to eat non-roasted whole almonds, which will prevent some of the fat intake.

Almonds and its protein content

Almonds are made with 20% protein: 30g almonds provide as much protein as whole milk 150ml.  Please note that this equation relates only to the amount of protein and not quality: like all other sources of vegetable protein, almonds do not provide the 8 essential amino acids (it is an incomplete protein source). They are particularly rich in arginine, an amino acid that plays a cardio protective role, but are very low in lysine.

To better balance the intake of amino acids, combine almonds with dairy products (rich in lysine) in a yogurt or cottage cheese for example.

Almonds in our diet

Eating almonds does not make you lose weight directly, but these are known to cause satiety quickly, thanks to their high nutritional value. A little hunger felt during the day can be mitigated with a handful of almonds. This food is a kind of appetite suppressant and in a balanced diet it is able to replace the cookies and pastries to satisfy the body needs in a healthy way. Try not to exceed twenty almonds per day (which is approximately 30 g / day), because a higher dose can cause weight gain.

Minerals and vitamins content in almonds

Among the nutrients provided by Almonds are minerals: magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, copper, zinc. Magnesium is involved in protein synthesis and muscle contraction, copper is involved in the repair of broken muscle fibers, and iron promotes oxygen transport especially during exercise. Almonds also contain vitamins E, B1, B2, B3 and B9. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that increases the immune system’s defenses in the surrounding white and red blood cells with a protective sheath.

Lipids, phytosterols and testosterone

Studies have shown that intake of some of the most important fatty acids increase the level of testosterone. This anabolic hormone is closely related to the development and strength of muscles. More so almonds contain phytosterols: these molecules inhibit the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, thus always ensuring a greater amount of testosterone in the body, and therefore a better anabolism.

Almonds for bodybuilding and fitness

You can eat almonds during the day as an appetite suppressant (not more than 30g) if you need to. Don’t forget to mix them with other foods to improve the overall supply of aminoacids (eggs, cheese and meat). You can also use almonds after a weight training session, their high nutritional density and stimulating effects of testosterone helps stop muscle catabolism and anabolism restart. Try not to exceed 20g almonds post-training. Again, choose whole almonds and also non-roasted, without salt added.

In summary

– Almonds are both an excellent appetite suppressant and a healthy dietary supplement food
– Eating almonds can reduce your cholesterol
– Beyond 30g per day, almonds can cause weight gain
– Mix almonds with milk products to balance the supply of amino acids
– Fats and phytosterols promote increased testosterone

In fact all nuts are great healthy snack food and we have to prefer and include them in our everyday diet when ever it’s possible in order to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle.

Author: Jessy Donston

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