Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium, which is an extremely important mineral, especially if you are suffering from trouble sleeping, stress or anxiety. We need to reap as many of the benefits we can from almonds, but unfortunately, this is not always possible. Almonds contain a pesky ‘anti-nutrient’ called phytic acid which can stop some of their goodness being absorbed by the body. Luckily, though, we have a solution!
What can almonds help with?
Almonds contain an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils, fibre, protein (20%), potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin E. Studies have shown that almonds can be useful in fighting against heart disease and lowering ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) (1). They are also a good source of important antioxidant flavonoids and amygdalin, which have resulted in almond’s reputation as an anticancer food (2).
Almonds contain phytic acid which is an anti-nutrient that can bind to certain minerals in the digestive tract. This inhibits the absorption of minerals which makes them less available to our bodies. Minerals affected include zinc, magnesium, iron, copper, and calcium.
One way of reducing the phytic acid is to remove the skin of the almonds, by blanching them in very hot water. Boil a pan of water and put the almonds in the pan when the water is bubbling for 1 minute. Then drain, run under cold water and pat dry. You should then be able to pop the almonds, which will be a creamy white colour, out of their brown jackets.
What is the best way of incorporating almonds into your diet?
White almond butter is an easy way to include blanched almonds in your diet. ‘White’ is referring to the colour of the almonds underneath their brown skin, not to any different type of almond. White almond butter is an excellent source of bioavailable magnesium.
Here’s how you make it:
- 2 cups of blanched almonds
- ½ tsp salt (We like Himalayan pink salt or sea salt)
- ½ tablespoon of melted coconut butter (optional, but this can make the butter a bit runnier if it is too thick)
Put all the ingredients in a food processor, blitz for around 5 minutes, or until it is smooth. Each minute, take off the lid of the processor and give it a good stir to make sure that none of the nuts are getting stuck to the side.
The importance of magnesium
Magnesium is an extremely important mineral, and next to potassium is the most predominant mineral within our cells. Magnesium deficiency can arise though low dietary intake and is common in the developed world as consumption of refined and processed food has increased, which has reduced amounts of essential elements (3). Magnesium is needed for bone, protein, and fatty acid formation, making new cells, activating B vitamins, relaxing muscles, clotting blood, and forming adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the energy the body runs on. The secretion and action of insulin also require magnesium.
Sleep and relaxation
Magnesium is a key nutrient for relaxing the body and improving sleep. Oral magnesium supplementation has improved sleep quality and total sleep time. This is believed to be based on magnesium enhancing the secretion of melatonin from the pineal gland by stimulating serotonin.(4)
Stress, depression, and anxiety
In stressful situations, magnesium is released from your blood cells and goes into the blood plasma, from where it is excreted into the urine, therefore depleting the body of magnesium.
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