Newswise — Almond or “prunus dulcis” is the seed of the almond tree which originated in the Middle East and North Africa. The almond is a nutritionally dense food and is a rich source of B vitamins, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, mineral, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc. Similar to other nuts, the almond is high in fat, mainly unsaturated, and fiber and also has an abundant amount of protein. Dr. Alireza Jahan-mihan, assistant professor and registered dietitian in the Nutrition and Dietetics Flagship Program at the University of North Florida, discusses myths and facts about the almond. To help you use it in your diet, a recipe is provided.

Myth: Almonds can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Fact: Almonds have a lowering effect on cholesterol and is rich in dietary fiber, mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids and also contains phytosterols. These compounds potentially may lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Moreover, some studies have shown that almonds my also increase HDL (good cholesterol). Flavonoids in almonds along with the vitamin E, reduces the risk of heart disease.

Myth: Almonds have a beneficial effect on the gastrointestinal tract.

Fact: During the digestion process in the gastrointestinal tract, almond flour is fermented and produces short chains of fatty acids, most notably, butyrate, which is a material for cells lining the large intestine. For individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, almonds are the pantry essential you don’t want to live without. They provide a great amount of required nutrients and calories.

Myth: Almonds have a beneficial effect on bones and teeth.

Fact: The phosphorus and calcium in almonds help make this possible. In comparison with other nuts, almonds have the highest amount of calcium, boasting 75 milligrams per ounce.

Myth: Almonds are useful for weight loss.

Fact: Frequent nut eaters are generally thinner compared with those who almost never consume nuts. Almonds are one of the ingredients in many weight-reducing diets because they suppress appetite and also they are highly nutrient-dense. A handful of almonds provide 4 grams of fiber, “good” monounsaturated fats and 6 grams of protein. This combination will keep you feeling energized and satisfied.

Myth: Almonds can help diabetics manage blood glucose.

Fact: Based on one study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the American Diabetes Association-recommended diet includes 20 percent of total calorie intake from almonds, which helped improve insulin sensitivity in prediabetic individuals. In another study published in the Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism, a breakfast containing almonds stabilized blood glucose levels for the rest of the day.

Recipe: Almond BiscottiIngredients (40 servings):Unsalted butter (for greasing)Flour: 3 cups (plus more for pan)Sliced almonds: 8 oz. (plus 1 lb. whole, lightly toasted)Granulated sugar: 1 1⁄2 cupsPacked brown sugar: 1 1⁄2 cupsCanola oil: 1⁄4 cupBaking powder: 1 tbsp.Ground cinnamon: 1 1⁄2 tsp.Vanilla extract: 1 1⁄2 tsp.Eggs: 4

Directions:• Heat oven to 375 degrees.• Grease and flour a baking sheet; set aside.• Combine sliced almonds and granulated sugar in a food processor; pulse until smooth. • Add flour, brown sugar, oil, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla and eggs; pulse until dough comes together. • Fold in whole almonds and transfer to prepared pan. • Pat dough into a 7×15 rectangle pan; bake until golden and slightly firm, 18 to 20 minutes. Let biscotti cool. • Reduce oven to 325 degrees. Remove cooled biscotti from pan; cut crosswise into 20 7-inch strips; cut each strip in half to form 40 3 1⁄2-inch long strips. • Transfer strips to parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

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