Go nuts It's good for you

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Including almonds in your diet is the perfect way to recognize Heart Month

February is Heart Month, the perfect occasion to eat right, including snacks that love your heart right back. And this includes nutritionally dense almonds.

A one-ounce, 164-calorie serving of almonds is an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, and a good source of fibre. It also contains heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fat, protein, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and iron.

February is Heart Month, the perfect occasion to eat right, including snacks that love your heart right back. And this includes nutritionally dense almonds.

A one-ounce, 164-calorie serving of almonds is an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, and a good source of fibre. It also contains heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fat, protein, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and iron.

"Eating a handful of almonds a day can help maintain a healthy cholesterol level," says registered dietitian Jean Lamantia.

According to a recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition, people who added almonds as a snack to their regular diet increased their overall intake of several important nutrients. (The study's researchers concluded that incorporating almonds in a diet may promote the natural displacement of less nutrient-dense foods.) Another recent study, this one in the International Journal of Obesity, found that adding some almonds to a low-calorie diet each day enhanced weight loss and significantly improved risk factors associated with heart disease, when compared to a low-fat, low-calorie diet, sans almonds. Researchers found that the heart-healthy fat of almonds is satiating and kept patients from overeating.

So, nuts to you! Here are a few creative uses for almonds in your cooking from the Almond Board of California:

Make "nut crumbs" by coarsely grinding almonds in a food processor. Use them as a gratin topping for casseroles, or sprinkle on pasta and grain dishes.

Almond butter is a nutritious topping for bagels and is a snap to prepare. Just grind whole almonds in a food processor and blend with a little vegetable oil and salt until almost smooth.

To give hot cereal a little more panache, mix in dried cranberries or cherries, plus a generous amount of chopped, roasted almonds just before serving.

Spruce up a plain roasted chicken by stuffing it with diced apples, onions, garlic, herbs and coarsely chopped, roasted almonds.

Organizations: Almond Board of California, British Journal, International Journal

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