The Importance of Protein
Protein is an important nutrient that helps our bodies to repair and grow cells. It's also necessary for the production of enzymes and hormones. Many people get their protein from animal sources, such as beef, chicken, pork, and fish.
However, there are many plant-based sources of protein as well, such as beans, lentils, quinoa, nuts, and seeds. Almonds are one type of nut that is especially high in protein. In fact, just one ounce of almonds contains 6 grams of protein, along with other incredible nutrients.
Protein intake is something that drops with age, but research presented at the 2015 Canadian Nutrition Society conference suggests we must maintain our intake between the food guides recommended daily allowance. Optimal health status relies on a daily intake of 1.2 to 1.6 g/kg/day.1 After the age of 30, muscle mass decreases by approximately 3-8% per decade and represents a significant health risk, a condition formally referred to as sarcopenia.2,3 Skeletal muscle mass even predicts how likely you are to live a long, healthy life as seen in a study of those living into their 90s and 100s.4
Dangers of Sarcopenia
- Associated with increased risk of falls and mortality.5
- Linked with rheumatoid arthritis, especially in women.6
- Increased levels of inflammation.7
- Changes to hormone levels.8
Why Nut Butters Should Only Contain One Ingredient
Nut butters are a great source of protein, but it's important to make sure that they only contain one ingredient: nuts! Many store-bought nut butters contain added sugar, artificial sweeteners, palm oil, and other unhealthy ingredients. These ingredients can offset the health benefits of the nuts themselves.
While these ingredients may make the nut butter more enjoyable to eat, they can also lead to health problems in the long run. Additives like sugar and salt can cause weight gain and high blood pressure, while other chemicals have been linked to cancer and other diseases. Choosing a low-fat version is not the best choice either as companies will add other preservatives to make up for the loss of taste and texture.
When buying nut butter, always check the ingredient list to make sure that it only contains nuts. Companies like Natur offer a range of products including creamy and crunchy peanut butter and almond butter. No oil, sugar or salt is added to these products either.
How Almonds Can Help Keep Your Gut Healthy
In addition to being a great source of protein, almonds also contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. All of these nutrients are essential for gut health. Fiber helps to bulk up stool and keeps things moving along smoothly; vitamins and minerals support the immune system; and antioxidants protect against inflammation.
A high-quality review of research to date showed that nuts increased important species in the gut microbiome like Dialister, Clostridium and Lachnospira while decreasing more pathogenic strains like Parabacteroides.9 This speaks to the prebiotic impact of nuts and why they represent a healthy addition to our regular diet.
What about the fat in nuts?
When it comes to fats, there are several different types that can be found in the foods we eat. Mono- and polyunsaturated fats are two of the most common, and both offer unique benefits for our health.
Polyunsaturated fats are a type of essential fat, meaning that our bodies cannot produce them on their own. These fats play an important role in supporting cell membranes and keeping them functioning properly. They can also help to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Mono-unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are not essential but can still offer some benefits. These fats can help to improve cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease. They can also help to prevent certain types of cancer. So, as you can see, both mono- and polyunsaturated fats are important for our health. Be sure to include them in your diet in moderation to enjoy all their benefits.
So, if you're looking for a snack that will help keep your gut healthy, reach for some nut butter! Your body will thank you.
1. Phillips, Stuart M., Stéphanie Chevalier, and Heather J. Leidy. "Protein "requirements" beyond the RDA: implications for optimizing health." Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 41.5 (2016): 565-572.
2. Volpi, Elena, Reza Nazemi, and Satoshi Fujita. "Muscle tissue changes with aging." Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care 7.4 (2004): 405.
3. Walston, Jeremy D. "Sarcopenia in older adults." Current opinion in rheumatology 24.6 (2012): 623.
4. Wang, Hui, et al. "Skeletal muscle mass as a mortality predictor among nonagenarians and centenarians: a prospective cohort study." Scientific reports 9.1 (2019): 1-7.
5. Landi, Francesco, et al. "Sarcopenia as a risk factor for falls in elderly individuals: results from the ilSIRENTE study." Clinical nutrition 31.5 (2012): 652-658.
6. Giles, Jon T., et al. "Abnormal body composition phenotypes in older rheumatoid arthritis patients: association with disease characteristics and pharmacotherapies." Arthritis Care & Research: Official Journal of the American College of Rheumatology 59.6 (2008): 807-815.
7. Bano, Giulia, et al. "Inflammation and sarcopenia: a systematic review and meta-analysis." Maturitas 96 (2017): 10-15.
8. Martín, Ana Isabel, Teresa Priego, and Asunción López-Calderón. "Hormones and muscle atrophy." Muscle Atrophy (2018): 207-233.
9. Creedon, Alice C., et al. "Nuts and their effect on gut microbiota, gut function and symptoms in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials." Nutrients 12.8 (2020): 2347.