Snacking is the prefect time to amp up nutrition supply and boost energy levels. And when it comes to snacking, I like to think of ways to eat functional foods (ie foods which serve a purpose in health - other than enjoyment, of course!).
One particular food, widely eaten as a snack, being studied for its functional effects is ALMONDS! Specifically, research is looking at the importance of almonds to gut health.
We are becoming more and more aware that the balance of bacteria we have has a profound effect on health. Accordingly, when it comes to gut health, you may have heard the term ‘probiotic’ ie putting bacteria into the gastrointestinal system, but prebiotic, less talked about is equally important. A prebiotic is a fuel source to stimulate the growth of the health-promoting bacteria in the gut. In other words, we can just put in the good bacteria and say job done, we also need to nourish it. Specifically, when good bacteria in the gut feeds off the prebiotics they receive via the foods we eat, good things happen to health! Gut health is particularly important if you are suffering from a hormonal imbalance (ie oestrogen dominance, PCOS, endometriosis) as bacteria play a role in the recycling and clearance of hormones.
So back to almonds.... almonds are a rich source of prebiotics and a study from 2014 investigated the effect of daily consumption of almonds or almond skins on the balance of bacteria in healthy adults. For the study, 48 adults aged between 18-22 were divided into 3 groups:
- 1 group: control
- 2 group: 56g roasted almonds daily
- 3 group: 10g almond skins daily
After 6 weeks, the results indicated a significant increase of good bacteria in those eating almonds and almond skins. In conclusion it was said almonds/almond skins being rich in prebiotics and antioxidant compounds are effective in supporting the growth of good bacteria in the gut, which then leads onto beneficial health outcomes.
So the take home message is that if you are looking for a snack, not just to curb appetite, but to also support your health on a deeper level, raw almonds with skin on, is a great option. You could in fact try 2 x 30g portions most days. Pair the almonds with a low-GI piece of fruit such as kiwi fruit and you have yourself a health winning snack!
Now, if you aren’t one to snack, as we are all different and have different needs, here are some easy ideas to add more almonds to your meals:
- Chop and add to salads or sprinkle on roasted vegetables
- Add left-over almond milk pulp to pancake batters or fritattas mixes
- Crust fish or chicken with finely chopped almonds
- Add ground almonds to pattie/meatball mixes
- Add whole to stir-fry’s
- Add chopped to salsa along with tomato and coriander for some crunch
Casey Dick | Passionate Dedicated Natural Nutritionist | Brisbane, Australia, Dietary Nutritionist, Healthy Body and Mind Advocate, Natural Hormone Balance & Healthy Weight Loss, Natural Skin Health, Anorexia, Eating Disorder Recovery, Orthorexia, Thyroid, Non-dieting Approach, Gut Health, Nutritionist specialises in PCOS, Why can’t I lose weight, Weight Loss Resistance