Almonds, an excellent food source for long term physical activity

28 September, 2012 | Written by Recuperat-ion Recuperat-ion
The almond, a whole
food, concentrates the qualities and is revealed to be the food of choice for long
duration athlete, both in search for performance as well as to maintain
physiological integrity.

An oil seed
The almond is an oil
seed (not to be confused with the
oleaginous fruits which are avocado, olive and coconut). Oil seed literally
means “that contains oil.” The name “oil seed” commonly
refers to the edible parts of fruits called “nuts”: almonds,
hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, peanuts, cashews,
pistachios, pine nuts….
Almonds: a nutritional wealth
Almonds are characterized by an exceptional
nutritional density, in other words by a very high concentration of nutrients.
Proteins, carbohydrates and lipids are found simultaneously in the almond in remarkable
concentration. This simultaneity is almost unique in the food groups. Thus its
nutritive power is very high (576 kcal per 100 g), and is an attractive quality
for long distance athlete. But the most interesting for athletes lies in the
“micro nutritional” part: essential fatty acids, essential amino
acids, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, fiber, antioxidants… The almond in
abundance with its micronutrients will enrich the athlete diet, and will protect
the body when the effort is prolonged.
The almond contains
about 20% of proteins (20g per 100g), like meat, poultry or fish. However, the
bioavailability of these proteins (vegetable type) is less than that the amount
of animal proteins in the body. Additionally, these proteins are incomplete
(deficit of two essential amino acids called lysine and methionine), which can
be compensated in specific food for exercise by the presence of proteins in milk
or eggs or leguminous (pea or soy proteins)…. In any case, the almond is an
interesting secondary source of proteins for athletes especially because of two
amino acids: arginine (cardiovascular functioning) and tyrosine
(concentration). Almond proteins also have a satiating effect (an appetite
The almond contains
15% of carbohydrates on paper, but in reality 5% of digestible carbohydrates (of
which half of complex carbohydrates: starch) and 11% of non-digestible
carbohydrates (fibers). The almond is thereby slightly sweet with just 2.5
grams of real sugar per 100g of food (i.e. the value of 1/2 table sugar). This
explains why the almond glycemic index is so low (glycemic index of 15 on a
scale of 100). The almond consumption does not fluctuate the blood sugar (neither
when exercising nor when resting). The almond fibers are interesting when
resting as they produce an appetite suppressant effect and retention of the intestinal
absorption of fats and sugars, thereby improving the cardiovascular function
(insoluble fibers). The almond is the oil seed richest in fibers.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids, the almond real
Lipids are the almond
real wealth. Almond contains 54% of lipids of which 37% are monounsaturated
fatty acids (oleic acid or omega 9, the same as in olive oil), 10% are polyunsaturated
fatty acids (omega 6 primarily), and the rest which is 4% are saturated fatty
acids. This unique composition explains the benefits on the cardiovascular
system for the general population. But for long distance athlete, it offers an
additional advantage. Indeed, the polyunsaturated fatty acids are a source of
energy twice more concentrated and much lighter to store by the body
(especially in the form of triglycerides in muscles). 1g of fat will release 9
kcal against 4kcal for 1g of glucose. In addition, the oxidation of
polyunsaturated fatty acids produces less lactic acid than the oxidative
process of sugar, therefore reducing the phenomenon of being sore after
intensive exercise.
The interesting
properties on the cardiovascular system are that the unsaturated fatty acids
improve the HDL / LDL ratio (“good” cholesterol / “bad”
cholesterol) and participate in regulating blood fats (blood triglycerides, blood
cholesterol). Omega-3 (0.27% on 10% of polyunsaturated fatty acids) are in
small quantities (actually only the nut contains significant amounts). Nevertheless
they contribute, at their scale, to the blood fluidity and improve the V02MAX.
Vitamins B1, B2, vitamin E, calcium, iron,
potassium, magnesium and phosphorus
This real micro
nutritional shield provides an important protection for the body during
prolonged exercise. The B group vitamins help to maintain the production of
energy from carbohydrates and fats. The prolonged physical effort increases the
need for vitamins B1 and B2 which are difficult to cover. Vitamin E contained
in the almond lipid neutralizes the oxygen effects on cells by its antioxidant
action (protection against cellular oxidation by free radicals). Calcium,
potassium, magnesium and phosphorous are minerals necessary to physical
activity because they contribute to muscle contraction and fluid balance.
Magnesium also helps maintain neuromuscular excitability and phosphorus
prevents the drop of blood pH (acidification of the body causing fatigue).
Almonds present a
high level of phytonutrients (molecules with antioxidant or protective
properties). Among them, squalene, a phytosterols precursor with
cholesterol-lowering properties and polyphenols in the almond skin which would
reduce the inflammatory symptoms during and especially after exercise.
Almond puree, almond paste or almond butter?
Almond puree is
composed exclusively of crushed almonds. There are two kinds of almond puree,
the white and the whole. White almond puree is simply blanched; its taste is
then sweeter. Whole almond puree contains whole almonds; the almonds fine brown
skin is not removed. The nutritional benefits of the whole almond are then
fully preserved.
Almond butter is the
same product as the almond puree. A small amount of the neutral oil can still
be added to the fabrication to make the preparation even smoother.
Almond paste is a
white almond puree (or almond powder) to which was added a little sugar and
flavors (and sometimes food coloring). The nutritional value is lower compared
to the almond puree or almond butter.

David Padaré :
and Nutritionist  specialized in endurance sports and outdoor sports as
running,  cycling, trail, triathlon, swimming….
David PADARE accompany several athletes in their different challenges:
ultra trail, marathons, 100kms, 24h….

 You can find David on:  magazines Running Coach and Cyclo Coach Cyclosport, Running attitude
trail magazine running 100% feminin,,, nutritiondusportif, traileur outdoor…..

Recuperat-ion – Hydration and Nutrition Experts

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