As if the delicious crunch of almonds isn't reason enough for your patients to enjoy them, their vitamin-E content makes them antioxidant powerhouses that help fight damaging free radicals.
The body needs oxygen, there's no question about it. But when the body burns oxygen, unstable molecules known as free radicals form. Free radicals are harmful because when they look to replace their missing electron, they can damage the body's cells, tissues, and even DNA. Researchers believe this process may contribute to the development of some chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.1 Antioxidants, like alpha-tocopherol (AT) vitamin E found in almonds, help the body neutralize free radicals by immediately donating the needed electron.
Almonds are one of the best food sources of AT vitamin E, which the National Academy of Sciences has identified as the only type of vitamin E that makes itself available to cells in the circulatory system. According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (see chart below), almonds rank strongly among food containing AT vitamin E, and one ounce of almonds contains 7.4 milligrams or 35% of the Daily Value of this nutrient.
|Sunflower seeds, dry roasted, 1oz
|Sunflower oil, high linoleic, 1Tbsp
|Cottonwood oil, 1Tbsp
|Fortified ready-to-eat cereals, ~1 oz
Chart Source: Nutrient values from Agricultural Research Services (ARS) Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
* alpha-tocopherol (AT)
Until recently, little was known about the antioxidants in almonds beyond vitamin E. However, in a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, experts determined the levels of antioxidants (phenols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids) in California Almonds' skins and kernels using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)/electrochemical detection, UV detection, and mass spectrometry. They found that almonds contain flavonoids and phenolics in their skins similar to certain fruits and vegetables that are well known for high antioxidant levels.
The study authors concluded that a one-ounce serving of almonds contains a similar amount of total polyphenols as one cup of green tea and cup of steamed broccoli.1
For additional references on almonds and antioxidants, click here.
1. Milbury PE, Chen C, Dolnkowski G, Blumberg J. “Determination of Flavonoids and Phenolics and their Distribution in Almonds.” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2006, 54,5027-5023.