Starting the Day with Almonds

Almonds Monika Szczygieł

I make no secret of the fact I am interested in shortcuts that make healthy living easier (and allow me to be a little healthier in my occasionally unhealthy world).

My favourite from this past year is the overnight fast.

Most days I fast from 8pm-10am, although once a week it's more like 10pm-111am. I've lost five pounds this way, and kept it off without any other work. It also allows me to eat whatever I want from 10am-8pm, which is the other reason I like it.

Then, I heard two things. The first was a statement from my natruopathic doctor friend, the one who got me started on the overnight fast. "Next, you'll need to start your day with protein." With this in mind, I started eating a few almonds first thing in the morning, if I thought of it.

The second was from one of my best friends. "Did you hear about the Harvard study that people who eat nuts eat something like several years longer than people who don't?" With this in mind, I started eating almonds every morning, religiously.

The third thing was from my massage therapist, with whom I was discussing numbers one and two. "I heard from Dr. Oz that a serving of almonds is 12. 12! Can you believe it?" I could not believe it. I was eating twice that at least. And so, I started eating only 12 almonds every morning.

But as with a few things in my life, I started doing this without really knowing why. I only know that it felt good and it worked for me. Finally, with a few moments to spare, I'd like to know: Why is this a good idea?

Short-term

Protein for breakfast makes you feel fuller, and signals to your brain that you're not as hungry throughout the day. This helps curb your desire to snack during the day, and even carries into the evening.

Long-term

Nuts keep your blood sugar stable for a long period of time, and over time, help lower your 'bad' cholesterol.

As for the Harvard study, "The findings echo those of earlier studies, according to Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who highlighted nut research at this week’s American Heart Association meeting in Dallas, Texas. “Eating nuts lowers LDL (“bad” cholesterol), raises HDL (“good” cholesterol) and also lowers blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress,” said Dr. Kris-Etherton. Her research also shows that nut consumption helps boost a process called reverse cholesterol transport, by which HDL particles in the blood sweep away fatty plaque from clogged arteries. The Harvard researchers pointed out that the composition of nuts—fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals—may provide “cardioprotective, anticarcinogenic, antiinflammatory, and antioxidant properties.”

So what next? I'm upping my almond consumption to 23 every mid-morning (one serving). And then I'll have a second breakfast — of a cinnamon roll.